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Old Posted Mar 19, 2008, 11:36 AM
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sirkingwilliam sirkingwilliam is online now
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{San Antonio} East Town - New rail crossing plans avert E. Side street closures

With this (the quiet zone) and the strong possibly that East Town may become the Arts and Entertainment District, btw I'll have more on this in another thread, this should really inspire development in that area.

New rail crossing plans avert E. Side street closures

Web Posted: 03/18/2008 11:29 PM CDT

Elaine Ayo

City officials presented a revised plan for silencing train horns in near East Side neighborhoods Tuesday, nixing its initial and controversial proposal to close four railroad crossings to traffic.

"We brought back a better proposal with no street closures," District 2 Councilwoman Sheila McNeil told the crowd gathered at the Barbara Jordan Community Center for a town hall meeting with the Public Works Department.

The updated plan for the nine street-level crossings between Sherman and Commerce streets would convert five streets to one-way streets for the block between Cherry and Chestnut streets and add safety measures at three others.

"It's a better approach, it keeps the neighborhood open," Dignowity Hill resident Juan Garcia said.

Quiet zones — areas where trains don't have to sound their horns when passing through intersections — must meet regulations set by the Federal Railroad Administration that require cities to reduce accident risks at railroad crossings to compensate for the lack of horns. The city's plan for its quiet zone would reduce the accident risk level in the area by nearly two-thirds, Public Works Director Majed Al-Ghafry said.

"We wanted to do it once and we wanted to do it right," Al-Ghafry said.

The plan would make Burleson, Burnet and Center streets eastbound one-way streets, would make Dawson and Crockett streets westbound one-way streets, install an extra set of crossing arms at East Houston Street, and install medians on Commerce and Lamar streets to prevent motorists from being able to drive around lowered crossing arms. Sherman Street would remain closed to traffic.

City staff estimated that the total cost for the project would be roughly $1.3 million and could be implemented by the end of September.

The quiet-zone designation was requested by developers for the Vidorra, a condo development being built near Sunset Station. They are willing pay for the quiet zone, but will receive a reimbursement for 40 percent of the project — up to $800,000 — from a city reinvestment zone, McNeil said.

Although some residents at Tuesday night's meeting expressed concerns that the plan would isolate their neighborhoods from downtown and questioned why the money was being spent when the area has more pressing problems, the overall response to the measure was positive.

"This thing is like a lifesaver for us," said Mike Patel, who runs the Holiday Inn near Sunset Station.
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