Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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March 27, 2013

Work begins on a quiet zone that would lessen train noise in Goshen

GOSHEN — The first step was taken Monday to create a quiet zone along the Marion Line Railroad through Goshen.

Long a desire of many Goshen residents, a quiet zone would require gated railroad crossings and other safety improvements so train engineers would not have to blow their engine’s horn at each of the 12 crossings from College Avenue to Lincoln Avenue along the Ninth Street corridor.

The Goshen Board of Public Works and Safety hired American Structurepoint Inc. for $20,500 to provide on-call technical assistance and coordination to establish the quiet zone. Norfolk Southern Railroad operates the Marion Line, which turns south from the main rail corridor at Lincoln Avenue and goes south through Goshen to Marion, Ind.

City officials have to meet federal and railroad guidelines to establish a quiet zone. On Tuesday, City Engineer Mary Cripe walked with railroad and transportation officials along the line, stopping at each rail crossing to take measurements and notes.

Getting louder

As that on-site work was occurring on a cloudy, snow-specked spring day, Bill McDonald was helping his customers inside his warm and cozy hair salon, Ten O Five along South Ninth Street.

“In all the years I have been here, I have not heard them (train horns) so loud,” McDonald said. “When I am outside I have to cover my ears.”

He said the train horns are often so deafening, that when he is inside on the phone talking to a customer, he has to move to the far side of his building so he can be hear and be heard.

Marie Stoltzfus has lived along College Avenue just east of the railroad for decades. Tuesday she was at Ten O Five.

“You sort of get used to it,” she said of the train noise. “But if you are talking on the phone, you say ‘there’s a train,’ and you just stop talking for a while.”

McDonald said he is in favor of the quiet zone and would also like to see other improvements in the corridor, including a bicycle/pedestrian trail along Ninth Street.

“There are a lot of neat things that can be done on this corridor,” McDonald said.

But he is still an advocate of railroads.

“Trains are good,” he said. “That’s what makes the economy work.”

He said he has noticed over the years that when the economy is picking up there are more freight trains using the Marion Line. And when there’s a downturn there are fewer trains.

The community effort to create a quiet zone gained momentum when the city’s planning department held public hearings the past two years on improving the Ninth Street Corridor. The idea was popular among those attending the meetings.

According to a city brochure on the corridor plans, the creation of a quiet zone will be a multi-year project that most likely would require different phases of construction. Gates and other safety devices would have to be installed at crossings and funding, most likely from federal sources, would have to be obtained.

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