Saint John, N.B. – Two provincially regulated railway crossings in west Saint John will have new safety infrastructure installed, eliminating the need for train whistles in the residential Fundy Heights neighbourhood.
The Government of New Brunswick, New Brunswick Southern Railway and the City of Saint John will jointly fund new gates, upgrades to existing warning lights, and signage for two crossings: Sherbrooke Street near Montreal Avenue, and Sand Cove Road near Rocky Bluff Terrace.
The new safety measures represent a combined investment of close to $900,000, with funding being split between the Government of New Brunswick (50 per cent), New Brunswick Southern Railway (33 per cent) and the City of Saint John (17 per cent). The three funding partners agree the proximity of the two railway crossings creates an exceptional circumstance. The City of Saint John made an application to the Regional Development Corporation (RDC) and received support to move forward in partnership with New Brunswick Southern Railway. The City will also provide annual contributions of $5,000 towards maintenance of the new infrastructure.
The City’s share of funding was officially approved at a meeting of Common Council on Monday, April 17.
“The people of Saint John Lancaster, and in particular, citizens around these crossings, have been understanding of the growing business at Port Saint John,” said Minister of Social Development, Dorothy Shepard, who is also the MLA for Saint John Lancaster. “The proximity of these two crossings created an exceptional burden of train whistles on the area residents and I am happy we could partner with the City of Saint John and New Brunswick Southern Railway to mitigate some of the impacts of a growing economy to improve their quality of life.”
“Last year was a record year for the Port, which is great news for the city,” said J.D. Irving, Limited co- CEO Jim Irving. “We want to be good neighbours and understand that this kind of growth and activity can have an impact. Saint John is home and we want to help make it a great place to live and work.”
“As a flourishing port city, we have a shared responsibility with our private sector, provincial and federal partners to ensure a harmony between the growth and development of business in Saint John and maintaining a highly desirable quality of life for residents,” said Mayor Donna Reardon. “This initiative to stop train whistles in a densely populated residential neighbourhood is one way we can partner to reduce the impacts of increased rail traffic on residents.”
The current rail regulatory safety requirements require a train to blow its whistle four times as it approaches and occupies a public crossing for a total of 20 seconds. When two crossings are close to one another, two approach whistles sound, which results in a longer whistle, and increased noise.
The crossings that will be updated are situated within highly populated residential neighbourhoods and are within close proximity to one another. Both crossings have seen a significant rise in rail activity and are expected to see further increases over the coming years, as the Port of Saint John continues to grow.
Several steps are required to be taken to cease train whistles, which include the completion of a detailed rail crossing safety risk assessment, agreement between the municipality and railway on requirements to implement train whistle cessation, and endorsement from the Province of New Brunswick.
The provincial Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure must approve the plan before it can be acted upon.
HAS TRAIN WHISTLE CESSATION BEEN OBTAINED AT ANY OTHER CROSSING WITHIN THE CITY?
In 2015, train whistle cessation was completed at two crossings where existing gates, lights and warning bells were installed. Signs were installed at both crossings as a required additional safety measure. The locations are Rothesay Avenue and Thorne Avenue. Train whistles in this area only blow at the train engineers’ discretion when there is an unplanned emergency event.
WILL WHISTLE CESSATION OCCUR AT OTHER CROSSINGS?
The City of Saint John may identify additional crossings for whistle cessation when and where it is deemed appropriate, and it is determined to be safe, feasible, and affordable to do so. Each crossing needs to be assessed based on its own merit. No other crossings have been identified for train whistle cessation at this time.
CROSSING INFORMATION AND CURRENT STATUS
Saint John has 14 public, provincially regulated railway crossings. Two crossings on the east side of Saint John currently have train whistle cessation in place, and the City is now focusing on these two additional locations where the crossings are in close proximity to one another, the nearby residential population is dense, and train traffic is expected to increase significantly: Sherbrooke Street near Montreal Avenue, and Sand Cove Road near Rocky Bluff Terrace.