Wayside horn project moving forward

Wayside horn project moving forward
Posted on 10/07/2020
The Lenexa City Council took several actions at its Oct. 6 meeting that will allow construction of wayside train horns in Old Town to be completed by summer 2021.

History of the horns
The City of Lenexa has been working with BNSF Railway since mid-2018 to install wayside horns at the railroad crossings at Pflumm Road and Noland Road. Noise from passing trains has long been an issue for the 1,200 residents and businesses who live within a half-mile of these crossings.

Wayside horns are stationary horns at railroad crossings that emit a targeted sound that reduces noise pollution in neighborhoods. They would reduce noise to an acceptable level at a much lower cost than the installation of a Quiet Zone, which would likely cost more than $2 million.

Once staff and the City Council received overwhelmingly positive feedback from business owners and residents at a wayside horn test in May 2018, $350,000 in funding was approved to install wayside horns at both Old Town intersections.

The City then began contract negotiations through 2019 with BNSF to install the horns. Both BNSF and the City would have to approve a contract and then complete different phases of the construction.

Project costs substantially increased
In February 2020, the City Council authorized the Mayor to sign an agreement with BNSF to install the wayside horns. BNSF would need to submit a signed copy of the agreement to move forward with the project.

When BNSF submitted their signed agreement Sept. 4, 2020, they notified City staff that due to the age of the existing system, substantial upgrades would need to be made to the signal control equipment. These costs would add about $190,000 to the cost of the project. BNSF denied the City's request to split the cost of these upgrades.

At its Oct. 6 meeting, the City Council adopted a resolution to amend the City’s 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Program Budget to allow for the project budget increase and approved changes orders for the increased costs associated with each intersection. With these actions complete, construction can move forward.

Next steps
On Oct. 5, BNSF notified City staff that once all the contracts are finalized, they would complete the signal control equipment upgrades within 180 days. Once that work is complete, the City’s contractor will need about two weeks to install the horns.

You’ll still hear train horns for a short period of time after the wayside horns are operational. During a 30-day trial period, the wayside horns and train horns will both sound to ensure the new system is working properly.

Once this period is complete, Old Town will enjoy only the quieter sound of the wayside horns when a train travels through the neighborhood.

Published Oct. 7, 2020