Acworth plans to be first city in S.E. with all ‘silent’ crossings
by Megan Thornton
June 29, 2013 12:00 AM | 6743 views | 9 9 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Acworth plans to become the first city in the Southeast to have a completely ‘silent’ community by making all five of the city’s railroad crossings quiet zones by CSX railroad, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Federal Railway Administration. <br>
Acworth plans to become the first city in the Southeast to have a completely ‘silent’ community by making all five of the city’s railroad crossings quiet zones by CSX railroad, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Federal Railway Administration.
ACWORTH — The blaring horn of a train interrupting a tranquil afternoon may soon be a thing of the past for Acworth residents.

“We’ve got three crossings next to one another,” Mayor Tommy Allegood said. “Those train horns will blow continuously sometimes for 25 to 30 seconds.”

City leaders are looking to make Acworth the first city in the Southeast to have a completely “silent” community by making all five of the city’s railroad crossings quiet zones by CSX railroad, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Federal Railway Administration. The five crossings are at School Street, Lemon Street, Smith Street, Acworth Industrial Avenue and New McEver Road.

“We would love it,” said Mike Fusco, co-owner and general manager of Fusco’s Via Roma, an Italian restaurant that faces the crossing on School Street.

“Any service on our front patio basically stops until the trains go by. It’s literally impossible to have a conversation out there when they are hitting the whistles,” Fusco said. “I’ve gone partially deaf by being out there when they go by. It’s such an idyllic little area with people walking the streets and enjoying everything, and all of a sudden the trains come blasting through. If it catches you by surprise, you’ll jump out of your skin. Just to add to the ambiance of downtown Acworth it would be great not to have that noise.”

Federal grant money available

But the quiet ambiance won’t come cheap.

Allegood said the venture has been in the works for the last seven years and will be paid for in part by a federal grant along with special purpose local option sales tax dollars. He estimated the conversion of each crossing will cost about $1.2 million.

“It will probably be another six or seven months before we know exactly what we have to do,” Allegood said.

Work on the crossings is anticipated to begin next summer and be complete in early 2015.

Craig Camuso, regional vice president of state government affairs for CSX Transportation, said the city has not yet filed a letter of intent for the quiet zones, so his company has yet to complete preliminary engineering work to determine a total cost to convert all five crossings.

“But they contacted us early, which is good, because we (CSX) want to be involved on the front end on this,” Camuso said.

In 1994, Congress mandated that the Federal Railroad Administration create legislation requiring the sounding of locomotive horns or whistles at all public highway-rail grade crossings.

Acworth would join several other cities in Cobb and the metro Atlanta area with silent crossings. The crossing at Brownsville Road in downtown Powder Springs will become silent within the next month.

The conversion of that crossing will cost no more than $474,000, according to City Manager Brad Hulsey, and will be paid by Cobb County from a portion of a $4 million legal settlement with Norfolk Southern Railways.

‘Quiet zones’

In unincorporated Cobb, there are quiet zones in Vinings on Paces Ferry Road and Woodland Brook Drive, one on Paradise Shoals Road in Smyrna and two in north Cobb on Mossy Rock Road and Stanley Road.

Camuso said CSX has instituted 18 quiet zones in Georgia, with costs widely varying for each specific project. Upgrades typically include improved signalization, vehicular signs and crossing arms that extend over both lanes of traffic.

“The reasons the train blows the horn when they go through a crossing is for the protection of the community,” Camuso said. “Our No. 1 priority is safety.”

Allegood said he’s also looking forward to the safety enhancements that will come along with the new crossings.

“We’ll create a much, much safer environment because of all the upgrades we’re going to do,” he said.

To move the project forward, the city of Kennesaw will consider a memorandum of understanding with Acworth for the New McEver Road crossing, as it is located within Kennesaw city limits but part of Acworth’s plan. Kennesaw City Manager Steve Kennedy is recommending approval.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
July 15, 2013
Wounder why the people in the houses on the other side of the tracks hadn't complained. They have been there a lot longer than the restaurant, and there is no way that train whistle blow 20 to 30 consecutive seconds.
July 09, 2014
Actually, the 20-30 seconds is a generous guess. I've lived in Acworth for 10 years and sometimes the whistles blow for up to a minute. I'm fine with a quick "hey, I'm here, don't cross the tracks" whistle, but it is freaking ridiculous to lay on the horn for an entire minute at 2 AM in the morning (sorry for the rant, but I've been woken up one too many times the past few nights, so it's been on my mind). Some conductors are cool and only do a few short honks, but others literally pull the lever and let the horn blow for the entire minute. Gets annoying after a while. I understand the value of safety, but the three crossings in downtown Acworth have safety bars that come down, and I'm sorry...anyone who crosses those when they are down is just stupid. Not to mention, you can HEAR a train just by the vibrations. Only someone blind (which, you clearly shouldn't be driving if you're blind) or not paying attention would be able to miss the train. All this claim about "it's for public safety" can only do so much. You can't bubble wrap an entire town just because a few people don't pay attention. I am all for the ordinance to ban noise pollution.
Joe Bozeman
July 04, 2013
Every time I read this article, I am more confused. $6,000,000.00 to create an area where locomotives don't blow their horns? There will still be noise from the sound of the wheel flanges rubbing on the rails. Mr Fuscos restaurant does not face the School Street crossing, it is nearer the Lemon Street Crossing and his "patio" that consist of only two small tables can't be that big of a money maker for his business. Why spend all this money on these crossings? The School Street crossing needs to be closed, it is an accident waiting to happen. It simply needs to be closed and the New McEver Road crossing in in an industrial area with a cement plant next to it. I am sure CSX would like to close every grade crossing in Acworth. Get serious Acworth, there is a railroad running through town, it was a vital part of a city that used to be primarily a mill town. It't not the railroads fault that you have become so uppity that a locomotive horn "scares you out of your skin when they come blasting through".
July 01, 2013
What a stupid idea. Does the mayor know why they are "noisy"? It is to alert individuals about the train coming. Derp derp derp apparently the mayor doesn't know
Joe Bozeman
June 30, 2013
Sure seems like a lot of money to provide a quite place for a bunch of yuppies to eat their Italian Dinner. The trains have been blowing in Acworth since the place was called Northcutte Station. Mr Fusco knew of this before he opened his restaurant. Locomotives blow at a grade crossing for a very good reason. Trains were running through Acworth before Mr Fusco came and will be running after he's gone.
Linda in Acworth
June 30, 2013
The mayor has been in combat with CSX for years and guess who is winning CSX....He has really made the noise much louder...I don't think he can control this when they own the right of way....
Just Wait
June 29, 2013
Just exactly what are they doing to a crossing that would cost in excess of one million dollars?
James Eubanks
June 29, 2013
Congratulations Acworth!

It is so exciting to see a city have the visionary leadership to invest heavily in a downtown area. I imagine this will encourage businesses to set up shop in downtown Acworth and encourage families to purchase homes in the immediate area; I know it will be a tremendous improvement in quality of life for those who already call Acworth home.
June 29, 2013
How the scam works.

1. Feds trump state train horn laws.

2. Train horns whistle whip people into submission.

3. Railroad comes in and makes a fortune in overcharges and stolen signal equipment (OURS).

4.Somebody (not railroads) has to pay for ridiculous priced liability insurance so railroad is hold harmless.

5.The crossings for GPS crew-less trains hid behind the curtains not a problem for railroads.

6. Warren Buffett starts his 41st vault of silver.
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