No Easy Solution to Train Situation
The temporary reinstatement of sirens and horns at all rail crossings in Wakefield is loud and disruptive to us all. The Town Council has been regularly apprised of efforts to resolve the associated Broadway Crossing issue for months, which was first closed for construction and then extended after the FRA conducted a reassessment of public safety improvements and incidents at the crossing. Our goal has always been to open Broadway and preserve Wakefield’s Quiet Zone.
We have resisted opening the Broadway Crossing until we could be assured that doing so would not result in the permanent surrender of Wakefield’s “Pre-Rule Quiet Zone” (Quiet Zone) designation by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Under this designation we have less stringent requirements to meet the national standard risk-index without horns. Surrendering that status would have mandated horns to blown until more intricate crossing infrastructure could be designed, permitted, and constructed.
Town employees have worked closely with the FRA, our Congressional delegation and others to resolve the matter, recognizing that surrender of the Pre-Rule Quiet Zone status would result in horns blowing at all active railroad crossings in town for a much longer period of time. We know that the disruption and frustration to residents and businesses on and near Broadway during the crossing’s closure have been substantial.
At our September 13th Town Council meeting, I and my fellow Councilors learned that we were finally at a point in the FRA regulatory process where we could reopen Broadway immediately without permanently losing our Pre-Rule Quiet Zone status. In short, the Council was faced with two options: (1) to keep the Broadway crossing closed for a minimum of three weeks longer while we await final approval to reopen with the Pre-Rule Quiet Zone status intact or (2) to immediately reopen the Broadway crossing with a temporary suspension of Quiet Zone status, to be restored once the final approval from the FRA is secured, a likely period of three to five weeks.
With high confidence that such approval is forthcoming, and seeking to offer some relief to those impacted by the extended Broadway closure, the Council unanimously voted to reopen Broadway. It is by no means a perfect solution and was not taken lightly. We will continue to push for an expedited FRA approval and seek other ways to minimize the horns’ impacts across town. If the Quiet Zone suspension extends beyond five weeks, I will put it back on the Town Council’s agenda for further discussion. We are in a no win situation in which everyone in town is impacted to some extent. We ask for your patience and understanding as we work to resolve it.
For additional background, please see the Town Website at https://www.wakefield.ma.us/home/news/update-broadway-crossing-now-open.
Chair, Wakefield Town Council