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Section 2: Preliminary Activities

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Diagnostic Inspection

A diagnostic inspection is required prior to development of the Notice of Intent. The local government applying for a Quiet Zone sets up a diagnostic inspection to visit:

  • all public at-grade crossings
  • all pedestrian crossings
  • any private crossings that the public can access or which access commercial or industrial property.

The following parties are invited to the diagnostic inspection with the local government:

  • FRA
  • railroad companies operating on crossings within the Quiet Zone
  • TxDOT (acting as state agency responsible for grade crossing and road safety).

TxDOT is not required to attend the diagnostic inspection, but must be informed of the diagnostic inspection in advance by the local government applying for the Quiet Zone. The District Railroad Coordinator may attend, or a representative from the TxDOT Traffic Operations Division-Rail Safety Section (TRF-RSS).

Diagnostic inspections for Quiet Zones should identify:

  • recommended safety improvements at all crossings
  • how the proposed Quiet Zone will qualify
  • any other concerns at crossings when a train horn is not sounded
  • any discrepancies found with FRA inventory.

For more information on diagnostic inspections, see Chapter 4.

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Notice of Intent (NOI)

Following the recommendations of a diagnostic inspection, a local government will produce a Notice of Intent (NOI), to be provided to:

  • railroad companies operating on crossings within the Quiet Zone
  • TxDOT (acting as the state agency responsible for grade crossing and road safety).

All parties are given 60 days to comment on the NOI. Any parties not responding within 60 days are assumed to not have any comments.

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Requirements of an NOI

NOI documentation must include:

  • a list of each public, private, and pedestrian at-grade crossing within the proposed Quiet Zone, including DOT numbers and street or highway names
  • a statement of time period when the train horn will not be sounded
  • an explanation of existing safety devices or safety improvements that the local government will implement at each crossing in order to qualify for the proposed Quiet Zone
  • a point of contact at the local government
  • names and addresses of all individuals who were sent a copy of the NOI for comment
  • a copy of the FRA Quiet Zone Calculator report if the Quiet Zone does not have Supplementary Safety Measures (SSMs) at all public at-grade crossings within the Quiet Zone or a spreadsheet of calculations.

All open public at-grade crossings within a new Quiet Zone must have:

  • gates that cover all approach lanes
  • railroad constant warning circuitry (if reasonably practical)
  • railroad power-off indicators
  • no Train Horn (W10-9) warning sign on all approaches, including hours in effect for Partial Quiet Zones (unless a wayside horn is present)
  • no Train Horn (W10-9) warning sign on any parallel roadways to rail within 100 feet of rail, including hours in effect for Partial Quiet Zones (unless a wayside horn is present)
  • bells, if pedestrians use the crossing.

All open private at-grade crossings within a new Quiet Zone must have:

  • a crossbuck and stop sign on all approaches
  • no Train Horn (W10-9) warning sign on all approaches, including hours in effect for Partial Quiet Zones (unless a wayside horn is present).

All open pedestrian at-grade crossings within a new Quiet Zone must have:

  • no Train Horn (W10-9) warning sign on all approaches, including hours in effect for Partial Quiet Zones (unless a wayside horn is present).

In addition, the Quiet Zone must meet the following requirements:

  • Quiet zone must be a minimum of ½ mile long along track.
  • There must be at least one open public at-grade crossing on either end of the Quiet Zone (not in Quiet Zone) separating it from other Quiet Zones.
  • Must be compliant with the TMUTCD.

The new Quiet Zone may not be ½ mile long if it is being added to an existing Quiet Zone, provided locomotive horns are not sounded within ½ mile of the New Quiet Zone.

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