RAILROAD QUIET ZONE STUDY
This planning effort is to collectively review the city’s five at-grade railroad crossings (Fryelands Boulevard, 179th Avenue SE, Kelsey Street, Lewis Street and Main Street) for the potential to establish a Quiet Zone within the city limits. A Quiet Zone essentially means that train operators will not sound their horn in the established area unless they have a compelling reason to do so (safety issue). The study is expected to be lengthy and involve BNSF, Amtrak, the Utilities & Transportation Commission (UTC), the Federal Railways Administration (FRA), city engineering staff and hired consultants. Each crossing will be reviewed via a diagnostics meeting with the stakeholders, including what improvements are required. These improvements will need to be made before the City can establish the Quiet Zone.
The City solicited professional engineering firms to assist in the diagnostics effort for the crossings. PH Consulting Inc. was awarded the contract on February 28th, 2020. The consultant work is underway. Due to the number of agencies involved, the process is expected to take the remainder of 2020, and perhaps into the first months of 2021, before the study is complete.
PH Consulting Inc. prepared a Rail Safety Grant for the City and if successful would provide for additional improvements at the Kelsey Street crossing. The conservative planning level cost estimate is valued at $433,000.
The City is working with several agencies to meet and perform a technical review at each railroad crossing. Agencies involved include WSDOT, Federal Railway Administration (FRA), Utilities & Transportation Commission (UTC), BNSF, and Amtrak. The meeting is scheduled for mid-November and will help the City understand what improvements may be required at each crossing to support a petition to establish a quiet zone through Monroe.
In November 2020 City staff met with representatives from the UTC, FRA, WSDOT and BNSF to perform site visits at each crossing. The feedback from each agency was incorporated in the final Feasibility Study.
The results of the diagnostic meeting and overall study of the crossings were presented to the City's Planning, Public Works and Parks Committee on May 25th and to Council on June 8th. The final report can be found at the link below:
Council favors improving rail crossings as state and federal grant funding programs become available. City staff will pursue applicable grants year-to-year, hoping that applications are successful and a project can begin. The City was successful in 2021 when staff secured a federal rail safety grant at the Kelsey Street location. The design phase is beginning for this project with the objective to make the improvements in 2022.