Those who live and work in the area of the former railroad crossings at Division and Fountain streets now will get an idea of what the downtown area will sound like once the city’s quiet zone is established.
On Wednesday railroad officials removed signs at these now-closed crossings that alert train engineers to sound their horns. Sounding the horns is no longer necessary, since the crossings have been closed to traffic and blocked.
A quiet zone is a series of crossings at which trains are prohibited from sounding their routine horns; they still would do so in an emergency or in the case of a track obstruction. This is meant to decrease noise levels for homes and businesses near the tracks and increase the quality of life.
“We are excited about this milestone in the project because it will provide a preview of what it will be like without the horns along the entire corridor,” said Transportation Director Larry Bowron. “It also will provide relief to the businesses in close proximity to the crossings.”
The city is working toward establishment of a quiet zone along approximately three miles of track through the downtown. This includes 11 crossings: Spencer Street, two at East Michigan Avenue, Elm Street, Main Street, South Avenue, Division Street, Fountain Street, Capital Avenue SW, McCamly Street and South Kendall Street.
The crossings at Spencer, Fountain and Division are now closed. That determination, the safest way to reduce risk at a railroad crossing, was made based on evaluation from various stakeholders and was approved by the City Commission. Trains soon will stop sounding their horns at the Spencer Street crossing, too; staff is working with a different railroad to accomplish that, and it will take place at a future time.