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TEXRail is making significant improvements along the rail line from downtown Fort Worth to DFW airport to accommodate the new commuter rail service. This includes removal of the old railroad track, reconstruction of the railroad bed and installation of new concrete rail ties and new track. These improvements will reduce the sound and vibration coming from the track, making the new commuter rail traffic quieter than the traditional freight traffic we are used to. The track work is being completed on all sections of the TEXRail rail line, including those portions that cross our roadways. In some places a second side track is also being installed. Significant safety improvements are also being made to all railroad crossings, including installation of medians and new warning equipment and signs. These improvements are necessary for our community to be designated as a Quiet Zone. Please note, this activity is not unique to North Richland Hills. These improvements are being made in all of the communities TEXRail passes through. A schedule of current and upcoming work can be found at http://www.texrail.com/status/construction-updates/.
While TEXRail is able to do paving and other improvements with lane closures, replacement of the train track itself necessitates a full closure of the roadway for 3 to 4 days. The full road closure allows contractors to remove the existing track, prepare the track bed and install a continuous span of track across the roadway to ensure the safety and integrity of the track. If they were to install track on one part of the roadway and then another part with welds in the middle, there is a potential for the weld to fail over time due to constant vibrations from vehicles using the crossing.
The improvements at rail crossings are being completed in phases. After replacing the track, TEXRail will come back at a later date to repave the roadway approaches on each side of the track. On our major roadways, this additional paving work will be done with lane closures and will not require full closure of the street. Once finished all of the crossings should be as smooth as the improved Mid Cities crossing.
Median barriers are a safety enhancement that restrict driver access to the opposing lanes and prevent vehicle drivers from driving through or around lowered crossing gates. These barriers have shown a significant reduction in the number of vehicle violations at crossing gates. For railroad crossings to be designated as a Quiet Zone, safety enhancements such as the median barriers must be in place.
Studies have shown that this DMU type of train creates 72% less pollution and 75% less noise than a standard locomotive. The TEXRail Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) shows that the sound level for these trains at full throttle is under 75 dBA at 50 feet (equivalent to the sound of a household vacuum cleaner) and below 50 dBA at 100 feet (equivalent to the sound of a normal level conversation). In addition, the railroad bed is being reconstructed and new concrete rail ties installed. This will reduce the sound and vibration coming from the track itself.
Train horns are required by federal law to be sounded at all public crossings, 24 hours a day, to warn motorists and pedestrians that a train is approaching. A quiet zone is a stretch of track where the Federal Railroad Administration has agreed that trains are not required to routinely sound the horn at each public crossing except in emergencies, such as someone on the track or workers within 25 feet of the track or at the discretion of the crew, as appropriate.
The City is working with the Fort Worth Transportation Authority and their contractors to establish Quiet Zone crossings through North Richland Hills. As part of Quiet Zone, significant safety improvements will be made to existing crossings, including installation of medians and new railroad crossing warning signs. The Quiet Zone designation—and all the improvements that go along with it—is planned to be in place by the opening of the rail line.
At the rail stations there are certain bells and horns that the system is required to use to alert passengers of an incoming/outgoing train to/from the station. This would only be during operating hours, not in the middle of the night.