Plan for SunRail quiet zone could cost additional $500,000

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - It's going to take even more money to get SunRail to stop blaring train horns every time a train passes through a crossing, Channel 9's Racquel Asa learned.

Asa discovered it'll take almost $500,000 more than expected to turn the entire railroad corridor into a quiet zone.

Most of the extra cost comes from updating three railroad crossings, including the one at Holden Avenue in Edgewood. The plans initially called for just three gates to come down when a train passes through, but the federal government is now saying that's not enough.

Instead, the Federal Railroad Administration told Metroplan officials one crossing in particular needed to have four gates in order to fall within federal guidelines.

The crossings at Maitland Avenue and at Ronald Reagan Boulevard in Seminole County are the other two crossings that need the same safety requirements.

While $500,000 seems like a lot of extra money, it's a small fraction of the entire $15.4 million that officials need for the other 89 railroad crossings along the SunRail route.

When asked why Metroplan didn't fix things before it went for federal review, spokeswoman Cynthia Lambert said, "Well, each railroad crossing is unique. You really can't apply the same safety treatments to each crossing."

Joe Casillas has a business next to a crossing that would get the added safety improvements. As loud as the horns can be, he said he'd rather hear the horn because he's seen times when crossing arms weren't reliable.

"I think it's the electronics of the intersection that don't go down when they need to go down," he said.

Right now, funding is still an issue, but officials in Orange and Seminole counties are hoping they'll be to get a portion of a $10 million grant to help pay for the project.

If officials in Orange and Seminole counties qualify for the state funding, local taxpayers would still need to cover part of the cost.