Progress made on train whistle cessation
Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 06:00 am
Shiny new crossing lights and automatic arms decorating the Meadowview train crossing bring St. Albert one step closer to a train whistle cessation bylaw.
The move towards train whistle cessation has taken longer than expected, said St. Albert city councillor Wes Brodhead.
“It’s progress,” said Brodhead. “Our intent is to put in the proper infrastructure so that we can legally create a whistle cessation bylaw. Levasseur is now the only crossing that needs to be controlled.”
Construction on the Levasseur crossing has already been authorized by council but has not yet been funded. Council will vote on that issue in Sept. or Oct.
“The next step after Levasseur is fencing the tracks off,” said Brodhead. “I received an email the other day asking why whistle cessation was taking so long. The reality is, there is a lot to do and it costs a lot of money to build these crossings. We have to apply for grants and that takes time.”
Train whistle cessation has been a divisive issue in council with opponents arguing that the expensive construction costs and relatively low number of affected residents means the project should be scrapped.
“It’s a quality of life thing,” said Brodhead. “When I was campaigning and knocking on doors, this was a problem I kept hearing about. It’s a critical thing that needs to be done and I’ve made it one of my commitments.”
Brodhead added that the whistles were not going to stop blowing completely, but a bylaw would make blowing them optional.
“There are some residents who have a lot of nostalgia for the whistles,” said Brodhead. “It reminds them of when they were growing up and they romanticize it a little. But the sound is disturbing to other residents and keeps people up at night.”
Last November the city estimated the total cost of construction to upgrade the railway system and implement train whistle cessation at $850,000.
“It isn’t the city’s number one priority,” said Brodhead. “The process is taking a little longer than I had hoped.”