Thursday, October 9, 2014
Dorchester Soon To Be A Quiet Zone For Trains?
The Times has learned that village leaders have given initial approval to a study that could silence the train horns echoing through Dorchester -- a problem that has worsened in recent years as the Farmers Cooperative has expanded its grain storage capacity.
In July, the Times reported on the blockades occurring regularly at the town's railroad crossings due to stopped train cars, as well as efforts by other communities to quiet trains as they approach crossings.
According to an e-mail sent to the Times, a resident who attended Monday's Dorchester Village Board meeting asked the board to consider imposing a quiet zone for both railroad crossings entering town.
The resident told the board that Hickman and south Lincoln had created quiet zones, thereby improving the quality of life for residents there. The resident reportedly complained that his grandchildren were extremely disturbed by the loud horns, and noted that some train conductors blow the horn the entire length of the community, despite moving at a very slow speed.
The e-mail sent to the Times informs us that the town board members who were present agreed to consider a study by an engineering firm to look at the feasibility of making Dorchester a "no horn zone."
The e-mail also notes board members were informed by attorneys that there are many factors to be considered before being designated a no-horn area, such as installing concrete medians at the railroad crossings.
Board members were also told that a study for a quiet zone can be quite expensive. Our source did not indicate whether or not the Farmers Cooperative may contribute to the cost of the study.
According to the Times' research, Lincoln has four designated quiet zones, which include twelve crossings along the BNSF railroad.
The City of Lincoln's website says a quiet zone is a minimum one-half mile long railroad corridor containing one or more public roadway crossings where train horns are not routinely sounded. All crossings must have flashing lights, gates, and constant warning before a quiet zone can be established. Train horns may still be sounded in the case of an equipment malfunction or if a person or vehicle is near the tracks.
While the railroad is the reason that Dorchester exists today, the Times continues to believe making Dorchester a quiet zone would improve our community's quality of life. After all, the co-op's expansion over the past decade -- while a positive for Dorchester and its tax base -- is a large reason for the increased duration and frequency of horns sounding at all hours of the night. A quite zone seems like it would be a "win-win" and a common-sense compromise to a tough situation.
A big "thumbs up" to the resident(s) who took time to attend the village board meeting this week. (Our staff members all agree we should have thought of that.)