Green Avenue will have RR quiet zone
One major intersection of road and railroad track will now be a little quieter in Orange. The Orange City Council approved a resolution authorizing a wayside horn agreement between the Union Pacific Railroad Company and the city of Orange at the regular meeting Tuesday night. It will cover the construction, maintenance and operation of a wayside horn system for Green Avenue railroad crossing.
Jim Wolf, public works director, said his department has been working on this one issue for 18 months. The estimated cost for the project is $264,345 . Another wayside horn was to be placed at the Cordrey Street crossing but the city only budgeted $125,000 for the project and it couldn’t afford it. Cordrey will be delineated with center line dividers.
Likewise, the new railroad crossings to be completed north and south of Interstate 10 after the construction project is completed will have double gates at the crossings. Five streets along the railroad have been closed in the city.
The city couldn’t delineate on Green Avenue because it is a state highway. Trains will blow their whistles one-quarter mile away from the crossing before silencing them.
Bellfield asked adults not to allow children to play on railroad tracks.
Wolf also presented the status of the Cooper’s Gully concrete lining project from the Round 2.2 Hurricane Ike funding from the General Land Office.
The grant is for $3.2 million and applied for in the Fall of 2012. Plans were for contractors Arceneaux and Gates to concrete the gully from one end to the other. The pump station would be at the Sabine River.
Since then, however, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers along with environmental groups will not allow concreting the gully because it is a natural stream and not a drainage ditch. Wolf said it’s been used as a ditch for 70 years. Wolf was told it would be detrimental to wildlife to line the side banks and the bottom.
“We’re back to the drawing board,” he said.
The city has until the end of 2015 to complete the project. Now the city will go to reparian buffer zones with certain types of trees and grass planted. Wolf called it landscaping.
City Manager Shawn Oubre said the biggest change of design is to clear vegetation to better control erosion.
“The next best option is to address better damage,” Oubre said.
Councilwoman Essie Bellfield said she wanted the project completed before hurricane season for drainage. Wold said if the project is not completed the city could lose 98 percent of the grant funding.
The council authorized a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the evacuation and emergency operations of the city of Orange. Oubre said the city has a contract with downtown churches, particularly First United Methodist Church of Orange, for their vans and mini-buses to evacuate residents for hurricanes. The Memorandum of Understanding sets parameters. The backup plan is to contract with school districts to use school buses. The council approved final readings for rezoning the H.B. Jackson subdivision on 16th Street.
Councilwoman Theresa Beauchamp was reappointed as mayor pro tem. Bellfield said she was against Beauchamp being mayor pro tem for nine years and wanted other council members who could be appointed to the position. Bellfield voted no to the appointment. Beauchamp said it will be her last year to be mayor pro tem.
During citizen comments, resident Gloria Anderson asked about a plant that lies east of Morrell Street. She wanted to know what type of plant it was, what it produces and if it’s hazardous to people. Oubre said she would get with Anderson to discuss the matter.
Henry Lowe thanked the council for allowing John’s Seafood on Park Avenue to continue hosting high school reunions. Lowe said a convenience store next door complained to the city about the reunions before the city contacted them.