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Concerns raised in Lacombe that train vibration is damaging heritage buildings

City councillor wants to see if it is feasible to do study on effects of passing trains

A Lacombe city councillor wants to investigate whether passing trains are damaging historic buildings downtown.

Coun. Don Gullekson proposed a notice of motion at Monday’s council meeting moving that the city investigate the cost of hiring someone to do a study on whether vibration from trains is causing damage to heritage buildings. The motion will come back to council for debate in two weeks.

Gullekson said he was approached by the owner of one of the downtown’s many historic buildings — some dating back to the early 1900s — who is concerned train traffic may be taking its toll.

The building owner has noticed cracks in the structure and is concerned it may be linked to trains rumbling nearby many times a day.

“Some of the trains have been clocked as high as 90 km/h going through the city, which is much faster than they used to travel,” said Gullekson on Tuesday. “There are concerns that the higher speeds are causing more vibration.

“I don’t know that for a fact. This is just speculation of course. This is just to start to look into possibly doing a study to see what the effects of that vibration is on the older buildings.”

Gullekson said he went to look at the cracks in the building owned by the resident who brought the issue to his attention. He did not want to name him without his permission.

“Some of the cracks and so on could certainly be from other things. But (the owner) feels his building shake when the train goes by at high speed. And he attributes some of the damage to the fact that these trains are creating more vibration than they used to.”

The busy Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. line that runs just east of Highway 2A has been a source of irritation for residents in the past. Trains are allowed to go 80 km/h, which many in the community believe is too fast. For a time, speeds were reduced but when railway crossings were upgraded CPR was given permission in 2013 to return to the 80 km/h speed limit.

If it was proved that vibration from higher train speeds was causing damage it could help the community’s case for lowering speeds, Gullekson believes.

Efforts are also ongoing to have the whistles stilled. Five crossings must be upgraded and certified before the city can apply for whistle cessation, a move Innisfail successfully made a few years ago.

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