Voorheesville Quiet Zone could be completed within 18 months

— Voorheesville Public Library Archives

Trains blasting their horns as they roll through the village is a fact of life for Voorheesville residents.

VOORHEESVILLE — The village is now in the ninth year of its attempt to install four-quadrant quiet-zone gate systems at each of its railroad crossings — on Main Street and Voorheesville Avenue — but it’s year 10 that’s shaping up to be the year.

Discussing the awarding of a contract for design and engineering services for the quiet zone during a February meeting of the county legislature’s public works committee, Slingerlands legislator  William Reinhardt asked Albany County Commissioner Public Works Lisa Ramundo if the 18-month term of the meant quiet-zone construction would be completed by December 2022.

Ramundo responded, “Yes.”

The request for proposals said that final design plans should be completed and ready for December 2021, with construction completed by October 2022.

The way the railroad crossings are currently configured, a train has to blow its whistle when it comes through the village. By installing the four-quadrant gate system at the two railroad crossings — which are also county-owned roads: Voorheesville Avenue is also known as County Route 306 and Main Street is County Route 201 Main Street — these crossings could become quiet zones where engineers wouldn’t have to blow their whistles as they roll through the village.

 

Recent history

The last time there was any significant movement on the project, 2018, it came with a price tag of approximately $400,000, The Enterprise reported at the time.

At the time, Albany County would have kicked in $220,000, of which Voorheesville would have been responsible for about $44,000, and the remaining $180,000 would have come from the state. The county requested and received $340,000 from the state through then-Senator George Amedore.

But that pot of money is now going to be drained.

The $131,440 contract the county legislature approved at its March meeting for design and inspection services with Saratoga Railroad Engineering came out of the state grant — and the remaining $208,000 will go towards construction.

“I suspect there probably isn’t going to be enough money in the budget,” Ramundo said of the cost of constructing the quiet zone after accounting for the loss of the Saratoga Railroad contract, which would leave the county with $208,560 in state funds.

As for the timeline, Ramundo said, “There’s no telling how long it’s going to take for construction; we’re at the mercy of the railroad,” CSX.

The companies were to assume 10 weeks of construction when bidding for the engineering and design contract.

Ramundo said she didn’t know if there would be any “alterations to the roadway geometry,” but the request for proposals was written to “include pretty much anything that we could potentially run into so that we would have a price for everything and make sure that it wouldn’t go over the cost.”

Saratoga Rail will put together the design and CSX’s engineering firm will sign off on it, at which point Saratoga Rail will put a price tag on the project — but the construction will be done by a contractor of CSX’s choosing.

In 2019, the county also signed a two-year contract with CSX for preliminary engineering of the quiet zone for $87,620, which was paid for with separate state money.

 

Ongoing concerns

The problem of having dozens of trains rolling through Voorheesville daily affects many different facets of village life.

It’s a problem for business as Voorheesvile seeks to develop Main Street.

Property values could be affected; there have been studies that show, as train noise increases, property value decreases.

Public health is a concern as well.

The railroad runs right by a playground that gets hit with a full blast of 110 decibels, about the same noise level as an industrial riveting machine.

These concerns are all in addition to the village residents who live close to either of the crossings and endure horn blasts all day.

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