TAMPA — The cost of creating a "quiet zone" for train horns in downtown Tampa started at $2.7 million, but now has risen to more like $3.17 million.
And City Hall is covering much of the difference.
The City Council recently approved spending $320,000 more for the project. The money comes from downtown redevelopment funds, a slice of property taxes created by new downtown development and reserved for projects to support more growth there.
Bob McDonaugh, city administrator of economic opportunity, said construction on the project should begin later this year. But, he said, when CSX, which is doing the work on its own tracks and crossings, bid the job, costs came in higher than its engineers' original estimates.
Still, Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the cost increase gave him no pause about following through on the project.
"We said we would, and I think as downtown grows that (noise) will increasingly become a problem if we don't address it," he said.
In 2015, City Hall won a $1.35 million Florida Department of Transportation grant to help create the quiet zone by putting up gates and flashing lights on nine streets with railroad crossings: Florida Avenue, Doyle Carlton and Ashley drives, and Tampa, Franklin, Marion, Morgan, Pierce and Jefferson streets.
Once the upgrades are in place, engineers will be able to cross downtown without having to blast their horns to warn motorists of their approach at all hours of day and night. Without a quiet zone, federal transportation rules require engineers to sound the horns 15 to 20 seconds before they reach a public crossing.
"As long as it happens I think it will be nice," Skypoint resident Lew Sibert said. "We still have Skypoint board meetings at 7 o'clock, and we still have to suspend the board meeting when the train comes through. We look forward to not having to do that."
Contact Richard Danielson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times