Quiet Zones Overview
The City of Columbia filed a Notice of Intent dated February 28, 2020 with Norfolk Southern for the first Quiet Zone. The 90 day public comment period expired April 24, 2020. Recently, Council approved the agreement with Norfolk Southern on the Preliminary Engineering work to begin the project design. The City is waiting on a fully signed agreement from Norfolk Southern before the project timeline officially begins.
The PE (Preliminary Engineering) will be the first stage of the plan, will cost an estimated $350,000 (based on $25,000 per crossing), and will take an estimated 90 days to complete after it officially begins.
Upon completion of the PE phase, Norfolk Southern will provide a construction estimate. Upon receipt of the estimate, the City will in turn then negotiate a Construction Agreement for the work to be performed within the RR right of way. Norfolk Southern estimates construction will take 6 – 9 months once the work begins.
The City will be responsible for the work needed outside of the railroad right of way. As part of the Construction Agreement, the City will be required to agree to an annual maintenance fee, per crossing, that is estimated to be between $5058 and $5689, going forward. Based on the specific improvements made at each crossing, a rough estimate for that annual cost will be $75K for Quiet Zone 1 (made up of 14 crossings).
The City of Columbia is also working with the University of South Carolina regarding improvements that will be needed at the Whaley and Heyward crossings. A partnership to apply for a 2021 CRISI grant for that project is being explored. These additional efforts are independent of our Quiet Zone 1 project, and will likely result in a second Quiet Zone in the coming years.
The Assembly Street Railway Separation Project has met with the City of Columbia, state and federal agencies numerous times, including SCDOT, large and small stakeholder group meetings with local groups including the Capital City Mill District, and the University of South Carolina. The latest online meeting and public comment period recently was held. Videos and handouts are available for review.