Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

October 13, 2013

Quiet zone sounds great for Goshen

We’re willing to bet that nearly everyone who lives or has lived on the east side of Goshen, particularly those within a few blocks of Ninth Street, have been awoken by the blare of a train horn. We’re also willing to bet that many Goshenites have taken a chance or two crossing the Marion Branch of the Norfolk Southern Line in order to avoid waiting on a slow-moving train.

The lazy rumble of freight trains through this 1.4 mile stretch known as the Ninth Street Corridor, has been a part of Goshen life for decades. The corridor extends from Lincoln Avenue at the north to College Avenue at the south and has 12 crossings. Because of the curve near Lincoln Avenue where the Marion Line splits off the main rail corridor, these trains must slow to a crawl. For years there has been talk about making the stretch a “quiet zone” in which trains aren’t required to sound their whistles at crossings. However, current conditions and crossings do not allow for that.

LAST WEEK THE Goshen Redevelopment Commission took a step toward a possible quiet zone when it approved funding the city’s portion of a $1.66 million crossing upgrade project along the branch. Federal funding will pay for the bulk of the project, with Goshen contributing $176,000.

To our ears, that is money well spent. As we have pointed out here before, if locomotive conductors adhere to the letter of the law regarding the Federal Railroad Administration’s “Train Horn Rule,” they are blaring their horn three times as they approach and proceed through each of the corridor’s 12 crossings. Each horn blast is at least 110 decibels. So, from the time a train takes the curve at Lincoln Avenue and then finally rolls past College Avenue, the engineer could sound their horn as many as 36 times. Keep in mind that these trains are traveling between 5 and 10 miles per hour.

CITY ENGINEER Mary Cripe explained that the grant from the Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program would fund 90 percent of the cost for improvements at six corridor crossings — New York Street, Burdick Street, Jackson Street, Plymouth Avenue, Reynolds Street and Purl Street.

Those upgrades would include the addition of warning lighting, gates and more substantial barriers, she said. Now, considering how slow these trains move, being stuck by a gate when there appears to be plenty of time to pass through a crossing could be annoying for drivers, especially drivers in a hurry or young drivers who may be trying to get to class at Goshen High School, just two blocks east of the Marion Branch.

DRIVERS WILL JUST need to be patient, abide by traffic laws and not compromise their own safety by driving around the gates. We trust that the crossings will be upgraded to ensure safety and limit wait times as much as possible.

Quality of life is important in Goshen. We are pleased with the many efforts of city officials to ensure and enhance that quality. Trains are part of life in Goshen and that’s not going to change. But with these crossing improvements, we are another step closer to a quiet zone on the east side, and that is something that would make life a little better here.

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