The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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January 24, 2013

Train horns concern council

CLINTON — Silencing train horns at select crossings remains on the minds of Clinton City Council members, even if it is a project that won’t be completed in the forseeable future.

By federal law, the trains are required to sound their horns when approaching a crossing.  However, an exemption can be made if a number of safety regulations are instituted, creating a “quite zone.”

Ward 4 Councilman Paul Gassman spoke with the members of the City Services Committee on Wednesday to reiterate his point that he would like to see a partial quiet zone instated from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. from Sixth Avenue South to 12th Avenue North.  

“I had the wonderful privilege of living down at the campground for the entire summer collecting fees for the camping and all that. One of the things people always complained about was the horns were blaring all night long,” Gassman said.

A new quiet zone must be at least one-half mile in length and have at least one public highway-rail grade crossing, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Every public grade crossing in a new quiet zone must be equipped with the standard or conventional flashing light and automatic warning gates, at minimum.

Gassman said only the train crossings at Fourth Avenue South and Fourth Avenue North would potentially create a problem. Other than that, he said the intersections along that section of the Canadian Pacific Railway either have crossing gates or could be barricaded at night when the train horns would be silenced.

The details of completing the project, specifically the potential cost for the city, remain scant.  

Gassman suggested looking to the city of Morrison, Ill., which completed the project a few years ago.

According to Morrison City Administrator Jim Wise, of the six crossings that are in his city’s quiet zone, the city had to pay for upgrades at four crossings. The two others consisted of a crossing along a state route that was exempt and an out-of-town crossing that required no work.  Each of the four upgraded crossings entailed putting up traffic barriers in the median and upgrading lights and cost $8,000. Morrison spent $32,000 to upgrade the four crossings.

Gassman said he doesn’t expect the issue to be addressed in the immediate future.  

“This is my rainy-day project, improve the quality of life for people who use our riverfront and live close to the tracks,” Gassman said.

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