The city of Bryan made another step toward implementing a downtown quiet zone last week, approving funding and a contract for engineering services at the Groesbeck Street railroad crossing.

Earlier this year the City Council agreed to keeping the Groesbeck crossing open as it works toward establishing a quiet zone in Downtown Bryan, in which trains would no longer sound their horns when approaching crossings. The trade-off for a quieter downtown is paying for safety improvements at the 25 railroad crossings throughout the proposed zone to push down the heightened risk of at-grade crashes in the absence of a horn. About $5.5 million for the project is in the city's fiscal year 2022 capital improvements program.

Last Tuesday the City Council agreed to use funds from the downtown tax increment reinvestment zone to fund an engineering services contract with CityLynx, Inc., which was also approved, for the design of the reconstruction of Groesbeck Street between Finfeather Road and South Main Street, two new traffic signals located at either end, and the interconnection of the new signals with the railroad crossing gate control system.

The upgrades to this segment of Groesbeck Street are needed to implement the quiet zone. The crossing is Bryan's second-busiest and most dangerous, and is frequently used by residents who live and work downtown. An estimated 7,800 vehicles use Groesbeck Street to cross over a pair of Union Pacific Railroad tracks every day.

The $110,000 for the professional services contract is 10 percent of the total $1.1 million estimated for the construction of the roadway and traffic signal improvements. According to backup materials for last week's agenda item, the project design, plans and estimates are to be completed by October 2019, and construction will come after a license agreement is secured with Union Pacific Railroad conveying the right for a new public crossing. Construction is expected to begin in early 2020.

The quiet zone process is managed by the Federal Railroad Administration, which requires flashing lights, gates and other measures to mitigate the increased risk of a crossing collision.

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