City staff in IC recommending study of possible ‘quiet zones’ for railroad at-grade crossings

City staff in IC recommending study of possible ‘quiet zones’ for railroad at-grade crossings
KCJJ Staff
08/09/18

How much would you pay for peace and quiet? In Iowa City, the answer to that question may be $2 million.

Assistant Transportation Planner Brad Neumann says the city has received an increasing number of complaints about train horns as Iowa Interstate Railroad trains pass through town. He says those complaints are expected to keep increasing with continued development in Riverfront Crossings, which includes two IIR-street intersections.

Neumann says the city could establish a quiet zone or zones to eliminate those horns. But, he says costs to do so – which would include installing several other safety measures – could run as high as $500,000 per crossing. With the grade separation on 1st Avenue completed last year, the city has four such intersections: Greenwood Drive, Clinton Street, Dubuque Street, and Scott Boulevard.

Neumann recommends creating a diagnostic team to review each at-grade crossing and determine the feasibility and cost of creating a quiet zone. He says the city of Coralville is also interested in doing the same at its crossings.

The city of Cedar Rapids is in the process of creating quiet zones for several of its at-grade rail crossings in its downtown.

Quiet zones prohibit trains from using their horns within at least half-a-mile from the intersection. However, they are still allowed to sound the horn within stations and rail yards.