BRUNSWICK — A draft version of a report by Gorrill Palmer engineering indicates that portions of a rail corridor in Brunswick could qualify for a quiet zone under current conditions.

The 117-page report reviewed several crossings in Brunswick to determine whether they met safety standards required by the Federal Rail Authority for all quiet zones. According to the report, Brunswick could qualify under current conditions as a quiet zone either if the Park Row crossing was closed to all traffic, or if the safer Jordan Avenue crossing was added.

“The existing conditions can qualify as a Quiet Zone with the closure of the Park Row crossing and/or the inclusion of the Jordan Avenue crossing in the proposed Quiet Zone,” states the report. Because quiet zones take the average safety of all crossings in an area, expanding the number of crossings to include ones with a better “Safety index” would lower the average enough for the entire zone to qualify.

Those conditions, however, are likely to change in the near future. Currently, Pan Am Railways – which owns a section of the track within Brunswick – is constructing a “Signal interlocking Project” near the Brunswick Layover Facility, which would allow trains to enter from either side of the facility and reduce the number of trips over certain parts of the railway. Once completed, Brunswick would qualify without having to take any action.

Another future project is the Royal Junction Siding Project in Falmouth and Cumberland, which is projected to be completed by the end of 2018. The project adds a four-mile section of tracks adjacent to the existing tracks, allowing trains to pass one another in opposing directions. Potential increases in train traffic would then force Brunswick to make modifications to crossings in town to qualify for a quiet zone.

The report also took into account the possibility of Amtrak expanding its Downeaster service to Rockland, which could also occur during the 2018 season. The increased traffic over crossings east of Maine Street would lower the overall safety rating of the quiet zone enough that Brunswick would be forced to install new safety equipment in order to qualify for a quiet zone.

The Gorrill Palmer report offered a few solutions for the future. One would be the complete closure of all traffic at the crossing on Park Row, adjacent to the Maine Street Mall. Another would be installing additional safety measures at the Jordan Avenue crossing, including lighted safety gates and medians.

A third option is to ask the FRA to consider certain parts of Brunswick’s existing infrastructure as “Alternative Safety Measures.” While certain safety measures qualify without inspection, ASMs require FRA approval.

An example of a potential ASM is the median along Maine Street at the current crossing. Because Androscoggin Bank’s driveway is within 60 feet of the crossing, the FRA would need to inspect and allow the medians to count towards Brunswick’s overall safety rating.

Another key part of the proposal the report didn’t get into: The cost.

“We’re working with the town to refine the cost estimate,” said Emily Tynes of Gorrill Palmer at a presentation held during a Dec. 4 town council meeting.

The cost, said Town Manager John Eldridge, depends largely on what steps the town wants to take and what the future holds for rail service in the area.

“It appears we qualify once the interlock is done, with no modifications, and no cost,” said Eldridge.

The town could potentially obtain a quiet zone and then make modifications in anticipation of future rail projects.

Council Chair Alison Harris said the town should be proactive in getting estimates for any of those future modifications.

“We know Royal Junction is coming online eventually, and we should understand what kind of modifications we would have to make to retain the quiet zone,” she said.

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