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How much will it cost Port Moody to stop train whistles? Not as much as originally thought

Train noise has vexed residents who live near crossings along the Ioco spur line of the CPR tracks for years.
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Some residents in Port Moody's Klahanie neighbourhood say their lives are being disrupted by loud, long train whistles late at night.

Silence from train whistles in Port Moody won't be as golden as first estimated.

A report to be presented to council at its meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 14) says it will cost the city about $179,400 to install the infrastructure needed so trains won't have to blow their whistles when crossing Murray Street.

That's $300,000 less on the low end of what was estimated in 2017, and $2 million on the high end.

According to the report's author, Sandy Tolentino, a project manager In Port Moody's engineering department, the lower cost is because the city won't have to install as much fencing to prevent unauthorized crossings by pedestrians and cyclists as had been first estimated.

She said the dense vegetation on the west side of the tracks at Murray Street is a natural deterrent that prevents people from accessing the tracks at that point; about 400 metres of fencing would only have to be installed on the east approach.

Tolentino suggested the city might also consider budgeting for the installation of gates at the south end of the works yard entrance and near the pedestrian crossing behind Trasolini field.

As well, the city would have to make improvements to the surface crossing at Murray Street, add more markings to the pavement and install additional signs.

But doing that work is only the beginning of the whistle cessation process.

If the crossing improvements meet the requirements to stop the trains from blowing their whistles as they approach the crossing, the city will need to send a resolution to CP Rail and other relevant associations and organizations like Transport Canada's Rail Safety Directorate for review.

If they agree enough has been done to ensure there's no trespassing on the tracks when a train is approaching, CPR will issue special instructions to cease whistles at the crossing.

But that final approval process can take a while.

In New Westminster, residents along that city's waterfront lobbied for almost two decades to get trains to stop blowing their whistles when crossing Quayside Drive as well as the foot of Begbie and Fourth streets.

More than a year after gated crossings where installed at all three locations, they now have peace.

Residents in the city's Sapperton neighbourhood are now advocating for similar consideration.

In 2021, residents in Port Moody's Klahanie neighbourhood presented council with a petition signed by about 100 people complaining about the noise from passing trains and calling for the installation of a gated crossing on Murray Street.

Residents said the noise from passing trains can be "so incredible, you can't even hear what is going on in your apartment."

They said at the time there were about 20 trains crossing Murray Street day and night.

Tolentino said the actual frequency is currently two trains a day, which means the crossing doesn’t require gates.

But if that frequency increases significantly, it will be the railway's responsibility to upgrade the system to alert cars and pedestrians of an oncoming train.

In addition to Murray Street, there are nine other vehicle and pedestrian crossings on the CPR spur line that runs up to Ioco. To begin the process of stopping whistles at all of them would require a whistle cessation assessment at each, estimated to cost almost $150,000. But that could be covered by a grant from Transport Canada if the city is able to put an application in before the Feb. 16 deadline.

At the very least, suggested Tolentino, the city may want to consider initiating the whistle cessation process for the pedestrian crossing behind Trasolini Field, as whistles there can also be heard in nearby developments.

A study for that crossing alone will cost another $10,000.