fox railroad crossing

Work crews put the finishing touches on the Mechanic Street grade crossing Tuesday morning. Extended arms for gates have yet to be attached See story, page A2.

Silence may be golden, but those yearning for a night’s slumber uninterrupted by train whistles during the wee hours shouldn’t forego their melatonin tablets just yet.

According to public works Director Christopher Gallagher, work crews are nearly finished replacing warning signals at both the Mechanic Street and Cocasset Street grade crossings.

Once activated, the new beefed-up signals will provide an added level of safety by lowering large gates to complement flashing warning signals and ringing bells when triggered by approaching trains.

In addition to the large gates designed to inhibit vehicle crossings, the two installations feature a separate apparatus to prevent pedestrians walking on sidewalks from crossing the tracks.

Because of its location at the intersection of Wall Street, the Cocasset Street crossing was particularly challenging, Gallagher said.

Faced with freight line improvements that foreshadow a long-term expansion in rail traffic through Foxboro, as well as ongoing complaints about blaring train whistles during the nighttime hours, selectmen last August agreed to pursue gates at all of the town’s eight grade crossings.

Frustrated residents at that time had suggested that installing gates and making related improvements could pave the way for Foxboro to apply for an exemption to Federal Railroad Administration rules requiring trains to sound their horns when approaching grade crossings.

Whether Foxboro could adopt such a “quiet zone” policy remains to be seen, however. At the very least, Town Manager Keegan this week suggested, a comprehensive safety study would be required.

“There has to be an evaluation to determine if it’s viable,” he said.

The freight line developments are unrelated to the MBTA’s pilot program to provide weekday commuter rail service from Gillette Stadium to Boston.

In addition to installing the new gate mechanisms, Gallagher said the bone-rattling crossings at both Mechanic and Cocasset streets are scheduled to be reconstructed later this summer — part of an ongoing program of rebuilding grade crossings across town.

To date, MassDOT has reconstructed crossings at Spring, North and Leonard streets, utilizing a concrete pad design for durability and ease of replacement.

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