City Manager Seeking Funds for Restoration of Railroad Quiet Zone

Chelsea residents may soon be able to get a little more peace and quiet near the city’s railroad crossings.

The City Council is moving toward approving funding to restore the Quiet Zone at Chelsea railroad crossings, which will include the construction of new railroad gates and accompanying safety improvements.

“The City has been working for quite some time to restore the Quiet Zone at our railroad crossings,” stated City Manager Thomas Ambrosino. “In late winter, the Federal Railroad Administration finally approved the design for the required safety improvements. The City bid the project in April and received two bids.”

The low bidder for the project was Dagle Electric.

“Unfortunately, Dagle’s construction costs are significantly higher, by more than $500,000, from what VHB, the City’s engineer, originally stated,” Ambrosino said. “In addition to Dagle’s cost, the City must also set aside funds for work along the railroad tracks that can only be performed by personnel from Keolis, the MBTA’s commuter rail operator. Keolis’ costs, which they now estimate will be approximately $500,000, are also far higher than the City originally anticipated.”

In order to award the contract to Dagle and to cover the Keolis expenses, the city needs to appropriate additional funds, he added.

To date, the city has appropriated $2,350,000 for the project in previous free cash requests. Of that amount, $2,043,500 was set aside for construction.

“We also have available a $1,130,000 federal construction grant, giving us a total of $3,173,500 in available construction funds,” said Ambrosino. “At this point, our best estimate is that total construction costs will be $4,174,165.”

That amount leaves the city with a shortfall of just over $1 million,

Ambrosino said the city does have the money available in free cash to cover the difference, and is asking the city council to appropriate $1,000,665 from free cash to pay for the project and restore the Quiet Zone as quickly as possible.

The council accepted Ambrosinon’s request at its May 9 meeting and moved it forward to a second reading and possible vote at its next meeting.

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