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Blair plans ‘quiet zone’ completion

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Joe Burns  Some Blair residents have complained that the train noise at the state Highway 91 crossing is more noticeable with the installation of the quiet zone at the other crossings in the city.

Joe Burns
Some Blair residents have complained that the train noise at the state Highway 91 crossing is more noticeable with the installation of the quiet zone at the other crossings in the city.

Blair is hoping to give a sixth and final railroad crossing in the city the “silent” treatment.

A “quiet zone” at five crossings became operational last year. Three locations — North 23rd Street, North 12th Street and River Road — have island barriers that prevent vehicles from driving around the crossing gates. The other two crossings — North 10th Street and North 16th Street — have wayside horns that direct train noise to the crossings, instead of into residential and commercial areas.

Not everyone in Blair is satisfied with just five of the six crossings included in the quiet zone.

The City of Blair hopes to expand its railroad quiet zone to include the state Highway 91 crossing. The plan would likely include island barriers on both sides of the crossing.

The City of Blair hopes to expand its railroad quiet zone to include the state Highway 91 crossing. The plan would likely include island barriers on both sides of the crossing.

“Just about the whole west side of town isn’t quiet,” said Mayor Jim Realph, who lives about four blocks from the state Highway 91 crossing.

Al Schoemaker, director of public works, said that residents have reported they believe the installation of the quiet zone at other crossings makes the train noise at the state Highway 91 crossing “stand out.”

On Aug. 9, the Blair City Council unanimously approved an engineering agreement with Felsburg, Holt & Ullevig of Omaha to develop plans for the state Highway 91 crossing and submit them to the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR).

In July, Schoemaker and City Administrator Rod Storm met with NDOR officials to discuss the possibility of adding the state Highway 91 crossing to complete the quiet zone. NDOR requested the city develop a concept plan of the 100-foot island barriers for review.

NDOR has been conducting speed studies — with and without a radar sign — on state Highway 91 from 25th to 32nd streets, Schoemaker said. NDOR will only allow the barriers when speeds are posted at 45 mph and 85 percent of traffic is at or below 45 mph.

“Traffic was slowing down significantly with it,” Schoemaker said of the radar sign.

The engineering estimate is for an estimated $5,990. No charges can be made without the city’s prior written approval. The city must fully fund the sixth quiet zone crossing project, but officials said Aug. 9 that it was too early in the planning process to provide a total cost estimate.

 

Courtesy: Katie Rohman

 
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