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Train whistles continue to irk Cramahe residents

By Mandy Martin, For Northumberland Today

Steven Koehl, a Colborne Creek resident, outlined concerns and offered suggestions to reduce train whistles in Cramahe Township at council Tuesday night.

Steven Koehl, a Colborne Creek resident, outlined concerns and offered suggestions to reduce train whistles in Cramahe Township at council Tuesday night. MANDY MARTIN PHOTO

With 11 level railway crossings in Cramahe Township, each requiring trains to whistle warning of train approaches, the 24-hour din is irking some township residential owners.

“I am here to ask council for whistle cessation at the Ontario Street and Victoria Street level crossings,” Colborne Creek resident Steve Koehl said at Cramahe council Tuesday. “This will greatly improve the quality of life for all residents in the proximity of these crossings.”

Supported by a gallery of Cramahe Community Association members and other Colborne Creek subdivision residents, Koehl said the request to limit or ban train whistles has come before council frequently in the past 10 years “only to be rejected time and time again.”

A 2014 township-commissioned engineering study of two crossings indicated it could cost Cramahe $5,000-plus to upgrade each crossing to a safety standard required if there are no whistles, but Koehl says the council did not question the cost estimates, nor contact Transport Canada to establish what work is actually required to come up to “silent” standards.

He suggested the Victoria St. level crossing in Colborne be closed and William St. south of tracks repaired and paved. The removal of one of the crossings within earshot of Colborne Creek would thereby reduce the number of times train whistles blow he said.

Koehl urged council “to arrange a meeting with CN to clearly define what safety measures are needed to allow whistle cessation to happen at Ontario and Victoria St. crossings.”

Cramahe Mayor Marc Coombs thanked Koehl for the presentation and said the matter has been considered before by council.

But at the public question period at the end of the meeting, Mayor Coombs was asked directly if council will reconsider train whistle cessation.

“It’s up to council if they want to move forward on any suggestions. We’ve already dealt with this a number of times. If I was petitioned by council the matter may be reconsidered,” Coombs said.

There has been “some talk of closing Victoria St. at the railway tracks,” Coun. Ed van Egmond said, “because William St. is a mess, deplorable, actually. It could be something we can look at to see what the feeling is.” Peter St. railway crossing area residents also have whistle concerns, he noted.

But emergency and fire access is a major concern, Coun. Tim Gilligan said. With long trains passing through or stopping on sidings in the area, it’s not unusual to have three roads with level rail crossings closed for long periods of time. That means emergency vehicle access is greatly reduced, he said.

There’s a Cramahe Twp. bylaw limiting noise through the night, one public attendee noted.

“I think CN and CP Rail trump that,” Mayor Coombs said.

Gritt Kroehl of the Cramahe Community Association said Cramahe could be eligibie for up to $20,000 in funding from Transport Canada if the Victoria St. crossing is closed. She urged council to close the Barnes Road overpass, save the funds to be spent on the new bridge crossing and address level crossings elsewhere in the township.

Ask Transport Canada to attend a Cramahe council meeting to outline the regulations and requirements for train whistles, it was suggested.

Cobourg, which has train whistle cessation in force, has only two level crossings, Coun. Van Egmond pointed out. “I wish we were Cobourg,” he said. The cost to bring Cramahe Twp. road/rail crossing to standard for whistle cessation was anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 per crossing according to figures bandied about at the meeting.

“Don’t think we haven’t talked about it,” Coun. van Egmond said. “It’s too much money to take whistles out of the picture.” 

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