City Corner column: How does the quiet zone, water restriction work?

I am a resident in the new Remington apartment complex on Ben Wilson Street and Houston Highway, right next to the railroad track. I heard that the city recently passed an ordinance for a railroad quiet zone. Can you tell me more about this? When will it take effect?

Yes, you are correct. The Remington apartment complex, adjacent to Ben Wilson Street, borders the railroad that generally runs parallel to Business U.S. 59.

The city council approved Victoria's first quiet zone at the railroad crossings of Ben Wilson Street and Delmar Drive. It should go into effect by early summer. This project is unique because the owner of The Remington apartment complex will pay for part of this project.

To create the quiet zone, a raised median will be built at the railroad crossings on Ben Wilson Street and Delmar Drive. Once the raised medians are installed, the city will send a notice to establish a quiet zone to the Federal Railroad Administration, Union Pacific Railroad, the Texas Department of Transportation and other users of the railroad.

The establishment of the quiet zone allows the train engineer to pass through the crossings without blowing the train whistle. The train engineer still has the option to blow the whistle if there is a safety issue or emergency while the train is approaching or passing through these intersections. Once in place, the quiet zone should improve the quality of life for those residents near these railroad crossings.

The city is also rebuilding John Stockbauer Drive between Business U.S. 59 and U.S. Highway 59. When this project is completed, the city will request an additional quiet zone at the John Stockbauer railroad crossing.

To hear more in-depth information about the railroad quiet zone project, please listen to a special podcast from the city's website. You can access the quiet zone podcast.

Is the city still under voluntary water restrictions?

Yes. Because of the lack of rain this fall, the city re-entered into Stage 1 of its Drought Contingency Plan in early December as the flow level in the Guadalupe River is below normal level for this time of the year.

The rainfall that we recently received has helped, but the city will continue to remain in Stage 1. Residents are urged to voluntarily reduce the use of water for nonessential purposes and practice water conservation measures to reduce the amount of water they are consuming.

Water conservation practices include such measures as:

  1. Water the lawn only when it is necessary. Learn to know when grass needs watering. If it has turned a dull gray-green or if footprints remain visible, it is time to water.

  2. Water the lawn early in the morning and late in the evening to avoid unnecessary evaporative loss.

  3. Use a sprinkler that produces large drops of water rather than a fine mist to avoid evaporation.

  4. To avoid evaporation, turn soaker hoses so the holes are on the bottom.

  5. Water slowly for better absorption and never water on windy days.

  6. Avoid watering the street, sidewalks or driveways.

  7. Do not water too frequently. Too much water can overload the soil so that air cannot get to the roots and can encourage plant diseases.

  8. Do not overwater. Soil can absorb only so much moisture, and the rest simply runs off. A timer will help and either a kitchen timer or an alarm clock will do. An inch of water applied once a week will keep most Texas grasses alive and healthy.

  9. Raise the cutting height on your lawnmower. The longer blades of grass will provide shade for the root system and make the turf more drought resistant.

The city will remain in Stage I of its Drought Contingency Plan until the flow in the Guadalupe River rises to a normal level for 14 consecutive days or until the river level falls to its minimum level for this time of the year.

For more information, visit the city of Victoria's website or contact the Public Works Department at 361-485-3381.

Do you have a question about the city of Victoria? Please submit your questions and comments about any city department to Jennifer Sourdellia in the Communications/Public Information Office by emailing jsourdellia@victoriatx.org or mail to P.O. Box 1758, Victoria, TX 77902.