By Cameron Rasmusson
Sandpoint Councilman Bob Camp, set to retire from the council in January, revived talks about establishing a railroad quiet zone in town Wednesday night.
A topic originally raised years ago, the proposed quiet zone fell off the radar due to cost problems. Camp said a recent re-evaluation and East Hope’s successful application for a quiet zone warranted that Sandpoint officials re-examining the issue. According to Camp, it took East Hope two years to get the zone approved and cost the city $11,000 per quiet zone.
“I think the city could look into this, because it is doable,” he said.
Camp said a Federal Railroad Administration official told him the first step is to form a diagnostic team. It’s an effort he believes the city should take, especially along the Boyer crossing, which runs near residences like the Milltown apartment complex. Many of those residents are senior citizens, he added, and especially for them, it’s a quality of life issue.
“Speaking as a senior citizen, when you get woken up in the middle of the night, it’s really hard to go back to sleep,” he said.
According to Sandpoint Public Works Director Ryan Luttmann, the crossings at Boyer and Division have the necessary equipment to be considered for a quiet zone. The ballpark figure for establishing a quiet zone on those two crossings is about $30,000. Other crossings bring with them additional costs due to their unique circumstances. For instance, the Boyer crossing lacks safety arms on the pedestrian path, a risk the city will want to consider. Luttmann said the approximate cost of installing that equipment is $300,000. Should the city want to establish quiet zones on four crossings that could benefit from them, Luttmann said the city would likely want to budget around $1 million for the project.
“We just need to make sure we have the appropriate funding, and again, this does take time,” Luttmann said.
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