If the city ever chooses to go the “silent crossings” route, trains would be directed to stop routinely blowing their horns as they approached the crossings. They could still blow them in emergencies, such as when the engineer spots an obstacle (such as a vehicle) on a crossing up ahead.
The crossing gates and signals themselves would be rebuilt as well.
The Marietta Vision 20/20 Committee wants silent crossings in place at five of the city’s seven crossings: Whitlock Avenue, Mill Street, Polk Street, Kennesaw Avenue and Waverly Way. The crossings at West Atlanta Street and Marble Mill Road would be unaffected.
Silent crossings would improve quality of life downtown without eroding safety considerations, according to committee member (and large downtown property owner) James Eubanks.
“You are not going to stop a bozo who parks a car on the tracks, and you’re not going to stop someone who’s trying to commit suicide, but statistically for normal traffic they are safe,” he said.
Mayor Steve Tumlin publicly climbed aboard the silent crossings train this week. He hoped to devote $3.4 million of the proposed $68 million Franklin Road redevelopment bond to create the silent crossings.
But that effort ended after City Attorney Doug Haynie pointed out at Wednesday’s council meeting that none of the city’s crossings are in designated urban redevelopment areas. That would have meant reworking the redevelopment plan and bond documents involved; and rather than add another hoop to the bond referendum process, the council chose to let the matter drop for now.
That’s just as well. Better that the council keep the bond’s focus on Franklin instead of diluting its impact with unrelated projects around town.
As for silent crossings, the Vision 20/20 Committee still has work ahead of it persuading the public that it’s the way to go — and explaining to city taxpayers at large (as opposed to those along the rail corridor) why they should help pay for it.