City investigates cost to silence trains

Fort St. John councillors voted Monday to investigate the costs of upgrading railway crossings and eliminating train whistles across the city.

There are nine crossings within or next to city limits, and the city receives regular complaints about the whistling, infrastructure manager Victor Shopland wrote in a July 27 report to council.

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If the city wants the whistling to stop, it must pay for the necessary upgrades at crossings under its jurisdiction, which would need to include flashing lights and a bell at a minimum. Council first wants a cost estimate to consider for the 2021 budget before filing an application with CN Rail to stop the whistling.

“There’s a lot of process, there’s a lot of consultation,” Shopland told council on Monday. “This is not we ask them to stop it, and they stop it next week ... It’s going to be a few years before the train whistles are ever stopped.”

Of the crossings, five of them are along Northern Lights Drive between 100 Street and 86 Street, and the area where the city receives most of its complaints.

The city is responsible for the crossings at 100 Street and 96 Street, and splits responsibility with the Ministry of Transportation for the crossing at 93 Street. The ministry is responsible for the crossings at 91 and 86 streets, and would be responsible to pay for any upgrades there.

The city also has jurisdiction for rail crossings on 72 Street and Swanson Lumber Road, while the province is responsible for crossings on the West Bypass and Airport roads.

There are bells and flashing lights already in place at the crossing at 100 Street, and Shopland noted in his report that the 93 Street crossing could be closed entirely to eliminate the need for any upgrades there.

There would still be some crossings adjacent to homes on the north side of the city that would require a train to blow its whistle, Shopland noted in the report.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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