A CREW WORKS to create a raised island on the approach to the Broadway crossing. The measure is one of the safety measures that will enable the crossing to be reopened. (Mark Sardella Photo)
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The long-awaited re-opening of the Broadway crossing will now likely happen toward the end of September.
The town has been doing its part, installing new safety measures at the commuter rail crossings in an effort to meet the Federal Railroad Administration’s requirements for maintaining the town’s status as a “Quiet Zone.” For Broadway, those safety measures include re-installing medians in the center of Broadway for a sufficient distance from the crossing to prevent motorists from trying to drive around the lowered gates.
A Quiet Zone means that sufficient railroad crossing safety requirements, as defined by the FRA, have been met so that trains approaching crossings need not sound a warning horn.
Town Engineer William Renault said last week that the town is now planning to have the Quiet Zone safety measure improvements fully installed by 9/17 (weather permitting). He noted that he was still waiting for an approval letter from the FRA in response to his June 29 Public Authority Application. He now expects to receive that letter today.
“As soon as I have that approval letter on the Public Authority Application, I can file the Amended Notice of Establishment to reopen Broadway, Renault said. That process has a 21-day appeal period. I think we can say Broadway will be open by the end of the month, but it still remains out of my hands.”
The Broadway crossing was closed last year to allow National Grid and the town to do some needed infrastructure work. But when the work was done and the town sought approval from the Federal Railroad Administration to re-open the crossing, they learned that the FRA had deemed that the town was not in sufficient compliance with safety measures at its railroad crossings to maintain its “Quiet Zone” status.
Since last November, the only way for the town to remain under the threshold and keep its Quiet Zone status has been to keep the Broadway crossing closed.
Over the ensuing months, Town Engineer Bill Renault had been submitting proposal after proposal to the FRA for supplemental safety measures at various railroad crossings in town in an effort to get sufficient safety credits to allow the Broadway crossing to be re-opened. It has been a frustrating back and forth exercise as neighbors and residents have become increasingly impatient with the seeming lack of progress.
Last June, Renault was finally able to speak directly to the person at the FRA who reviews all Quiet Zones. As a result of that Zoom meeting and a subsequent follow-up, Renault said that he felt that the town was finally making progress in getting Broadway re-opened.
He said at the time that he believed consensus had been reached with the Quiet Zone reviewer. To shorten the wait as much as possible, the town used the 60-day appeal period to do the needed work at its own risk.
Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio has commended Renault for his “yeoman’s work” to get the crossing open.
While not required for the reopening of Broadway, Renault has said that he plans to request funding for the design and construction of quad gate systems at a future Town Meeting. Quad gates are a four-gate system designed to block all lanes of traffic on both sides of the track. Installing quad gate systems will bring the town well within the Quiet Zone threshold and help to avoid future closures of crossings.