Railroad gates in Ames

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rewise

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I just returned from the Special Olympics National Games held in Ames (my son won two gold and one silver medal) and have a question about the grade crossings in town.

The main crossing on Duff street has what looks like at least three television cameras all aimed at the tracks and large signs saying don't stop on the tracks. They also have stationary (on poles) electronic train horns that repeat and repeat the normal two long one short one long crossing warning signal. The trains do not sound their own horns. Looking down the tracks I saw a flashing "X" lights (could have been block lights).

I asked some of the Ames citizens and they had not idea about any of it.
 

mwjones

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What you saw is a way to reduce the noise of trains passing by eliminating the need to sound the horns. The post mounted horns are aimed at oncoming traffic, so the motorists and pedestrians hear them, but the surrounding neighborhood don't.

The system works like a typical predictor circuit, determining when to activate the warning devices based on train speed, time until it occupys the crossing, etc. At that point (at least 40 seconds out), the crossing arms and lights are activated, and the directional horn devices start sounding. The flashing X then activates to signal the engineer that the system is working and not to sound his horn. If the engineer doesn't receive the flashing X, he follows the standard operating rules, sounding the engine-mounted horn.

As far as the cameras, it might be some sort of protection system that uses computer logic to determine if the track is clear (similar to newer traffic light control systems) and prevent the flashing X signal from activating if something is on the tracks. This would again require the engineer to sound the horn.
 
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DickH

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rewise said:
The main crossing on Duff street has what looks like at least three television cameras all aimed at the tracks and large signs saying don't stop on the tracks.
If they look like these they are one end of light beams that detect vehicles that are stopped on the crossing and either stop the train or give the driver a warning signal.

http://www.pbase.com/dickh/image/1297203
 

wbigcount

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mwjones said:
What you saw is a way to reduce the noise of trains passing by eliminating the need to sound the horns. The post mounted horns are aimed at oncoming traffic, so the motorists and pedestrians hear them, but the surrounding neighborhood don't.

The system works like a typical predictor circuit, determining when to activate the warning devices based on train speed, time until it occupys the crossing, etc. At that point (at least 40 seconds out), the crossing arms and lights are activated, and the directional horn devices start sounding. The flashing X then activates to signal the engineer that the system is working and not to sound his horn. If the engineer doesn't receive the flashing X, he follows the standard operating rules, sounding the engine-mounted horn.

As far as the cameras, it might be some sort of protection system that uses computer logic to determine if the track is clear (similar to newer traffic light control systems) and prevent the flashing X signal from activating if something is on the tracks. This would again require the engineer to sound the horn.

What he said is right, we have them up here in a few spots.
 

mwjones

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wbigcount said:
What he said is right, we have them up here in a few spots.
Where do you think I saw them??? I lived in the Kansas City area until February 2004. I still go there 2-3 times a year since most of my family is up there.
 
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