Discussion about rail road crossings along the Pan Am Railways line and the impact on neighborhoods from train whistles.
ACTION: No Council action is anticipated.
On September 19th several Councilors and Town staff, including Theo Holtwijk, Nathan Poore and Police Chief Edward Tolan, participated in a meeting in Cumberland Town Hall with Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) staff to explore options for the Council to consider regarding the safety of the rail road crossings along the Pan Am Railways line. The presentation for that meeting is attached (Note: The "FRA 20110915 Full Page" presentation is a 19 MB file and will take a moment to upload).
There are four crossings in Falmouth including crossings on Blackstrap Road, Falmouth Road, Field Road and Woodville Road. There is one other crossing on a private road, Muirfield Road/Birkdale Road, which impacts Falmouth residents, but is located in Cumberland.
Two crossings, Blackstrap and Falmouth Roads, are currently located in what is called a "Quiet Zone" (QZ). These zones were previously created and approved by the Federal Railroad Authority (FRA). A QZ is only allowed if there are adequate supplemental safety measures in place that will ensure similar or greater safety related conditions than reliance on the train whistle.
The new Downeaster extension of service from Portland to Brunswick will add rail traffic to the crossings and the rail upgrade will allow freight trains to travel at higher speeds. Most crossings will have upgrades paid for by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA), operator of the Downeaster. However, these improvements will not be enough to either maintain QZ at Blackstrap and Falmouth Roads or add QZ to Field and Woodville Roads.
There are some options or supplemental safety measures (SSM's) that could be added to these crossings to maintain or add a QZ in Falmouth.
Staff has updated possible crossing improvement designs and cost estimates (see attached "Council QZ 20111018 summary" memo).
The Council is asked if it wants to pursue maintaining and/or extending a Quiet Zone in Falmouth.