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$900K to upgrade Fundy Heights railway crossings

By Brad Perry Apr 19, 2023 | 7:00 AM

Two railway crossings in west Saint John are in line for nearly $900,000 in upgrades.

It will eliminate the need for train whistles in the residential Fundy Heights neighbourhood.

On Monday, council approved a grant of $145,350, or 17 per cent of the total project cost.

The province will fund 50 per cent while New Brunswick Southern Railway will pay for the remaining 33 per cent.

Mayor Donna Reardon, speaking in an interview on Tuesday, said the change is long overdue for area residents.

“Train whistles are part of the fabric here in Saint John, but how do we grow and how do we mitigate the impacts from growth,” said Reardon.

The crossings on Sherbrooke Street and Sand Cove Road require new gates and upgraded warning lights and signs before train whistles can be stopped.

There must also be a detailed rail crossing safety risk assessment, an agreement between the municipality and railway on requirements to implement train whistle cessation, and endorsement from the province.

According to a city staff report, these rail crossings are considered the greatest priority to stop train whistles as they are within highly populated residential neighbourhoods and are within close proximity to one another.

“The current rail regulatory safety requirements require a train to blow its whistle four times as it approaches and occupies a public crossing for a total of 20 seconds,” the city said in a news release.

“When two crossings are close to one another, two approach whistles sound, which results in a longer whistle, and increased noise.”

In addition to the capital funding, the city has agreed to provide $5,000 a year toward maintaining the new infrastructure.

With increased rail activity expected at these two crossings due to growth at Port Saint John, Reardon said it is time for the train whistles to be eliminated.

“There are lots more crossings that will eventually need to be looked at. Maybe they’ll be more partners, maybe the city won’t have to partner with it,” said Reardon.

Saint John has 14 public provincially regulated railway crossings throughout the city, with trains still blowing their whistles at most of them.

Train whistle cessation was completed at two crossings on Rothesay Avenue and Thorne Avenue in 2015. Engineers will only blow the train whistle when there is an unplanned emergency event.


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