The Cumberland Town Council recently decided to take a “wait-and-see” approach in their decision to pursue a quiet zone at three rail crossings due to the anticipated impact of the Amtrak Downeaster passing though these crossings at 60 mph. It came to this decision even after seeing a presentation by a town official that convincingly demonstrated that implementing a quiet zone at these crossings, which involves installing channelization to accompany the gates and flashing lights and silencing the train whistle, increased the safety by almost 50 percent based on the Federal Railroad Administration’s risk assessment tool. A similar analysis of the Cumberland crossings by a Falmouth town official put the increased safety at 75 percent.
I encourage the good people of Cumberland to contact their town councilors and ask them to reconsider their decision. I do not believe that “wait-and-see” is a viable option in this case and could prove to be a deadly one as the amount of rail traffic increases and the speeds triple. The FRA official who attended the joint Cumberland/Falmouth council meeting was supportive of the quiet zone effort not because of noise reduction, but because it results in safer railroad crossings.