Railroad quiet zone will cost city of Orange a little more
There will eventually be a railroad quiet zone within the city of Orange. It will only cost more to do so.
The Orange City Council held its regular meeting Tuesday morning in the public library auditorium. Jim Wolf, director of public works, reported Union Pacific Railroad is requesting more money to complete the last two crossings than was originally bargained. Ten of the crossings were made into readied for the quiet zones beginning two years ago by way of wayside horns, median barriers or were closed. The remaining two are West Cordrey Avenue and US 90 at Green Avenue.
A wayside horn was to be installed at West Cordrey but the public works decided against it due to a cost of $125,000. Instead, a median barrier will be installed for $9,475. The way side horn at Green originally cost $125,000. It will now cost $345,200. Wolf added the wayside horn is needed because the railroad is curved and the train engineer can’t see ahead in time.
Wolf said the wayside horns are needed because a temporary closure is not feasible, there is not enough distance to implement raised medians, a one-way street in not a viable alternative, the cost of four quadrant gates is prohibitive and it is more cost effective for the community. A wayside horn is a stationary horn system located the railroad crossing. It sounds like a locomotive horn and it reduces noise pollution in neighborhoods located near grade crossings and it improves safety for motorists and pedestrians.
The wayside horn must sound a minimum of 15 seconds prior to the train’s arrival at the crossing and while the lead locomotive is traveling across the crossing. It is also permissible for the horn system to begin to sound simultaneously with the activation of the flashing lights or descent of the crossing arm. In addition, the wayside horn must be equipped with an indicator or other system to notify the locomotive engineer which provides sufficient time to initiate the train horn for a minimum of 15 seconds prior to arrival at the crossing in the event the wayside horn is not operating as intended. The original total cost was $387,500 with a Texas Department of Transportation reimbursement of $322,500 leaving the city an out-of-pocket cost of $65,000. The new total amount is now $465,510 with a TxDOT reimbursement of $322,500, leaving the city with an out-of-pocket cost of $143,010 and a difference of $78,010 to be paid out of the city’s reserves.The motion was passed.
A final reading of an ordinance granting a franchise to Sprint Waste Services to operate a commercial closed container garbage collection service in the city was passed. Triangle Waste is the current holder of a garbage franchise with Orange and has been renamed to Sprint Waste Services.
In other Orange city business, the council approved the final reading requiring all manufactured homes moving into the city limits be no more than 15 years old.Jimmie Lewis, director of planning and community development, said the planning and zoning committee is trying to improve the city’s housing stock and the older manufactured homes aren’t built to a better quality standard as the newer ones.Most of the city’s manufactured homes are located in the Brownwood and the Cove subdivisions.
The council also approved the final reading for new sign regulations within the city limits. Lewis said four kinds of signs will be affected: Digital on-premises signs such as at Orange Savings Bank The changing of masters signs at shopping centers from a required five businesses to three or more businesses. The banning of portable signs. Lewis said these signs are a hazard in high winds, are an electrical problem if wiring is not inserted into a conduit underground and they can cause a traffic problem by blocking a driver’s view.
The council approved the certification of the 2013 assessed tax roll and the 2013 delinquent tax roll summary. The city has a tax levy of $6,085,476 and delinquent taxes totaling $1,298,112. Councilwoman Essie Bellfield said there should be a way for the city to collect delinquent taxes. Finance director Gail English replied the city contracts with Orange County to collect delinquent taxes. Last year, 99 percent of delinquent taxes were collected. It just takes time, she said. City Manager Shawn Oubre reported the city may be contracting with the Orange County Elections Administrator for election duties for the city’s general election. The county was mandated by the state many years ago to purchase and operate electronic voting machines. This spurred the creation of the Orange County Election Administrator. One of the duties the election administrator has is to subcontract with other entities and assist them with their elections. To date, no one has done this but the city and the drainage district are considering this. The city would basically handle the election up to the day of early voting. The county then would handle the voting period and count the votes. The city would then be notified of the results and be involved in the posting of the results.
Staff projects the cost to contract with the county to do the additional work will be less than $500. The staff does not know the exact cost because if is a percentage of their total cost. It is calculated at 10 percent which was set by the Orange County Commissioners Court.