Sections

Weather Forecast

Close
Advertisement
A train passes through the Trott Avenue Southwest crossing in Willmar. Willmar City Council members have approved an agreement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the state Transportation Department to install equipment at the crossing to make it a quiet zone. Tribune photo by Gary Miller
A train passes through the Trott Avenue Southwest crossing in Willmar. Willmar City Council members have approved an agreement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the state Transportation Department to install equipment at the crossing to make it a quiet zone. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

Willmar City Council OKs agreement with BNSF for Trott Avenue quiet zone

Email Sign up for Breaking News Alerts
news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- The sound of train horns at the Trott Avenue Southwest railroad crossing will be a thing of the past next year under an agreement approved Monday by the Willmar City Council.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The agreement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the Minnesota Department of Transportation allows city staff to proceed with installation of improvements to create a zone where train horns are not sounded when a locomotive approaches and proceeds through the crossing.

Council action is in response to complaints made by citizens over the past several years about the number of train horns being sounded at railroad crossings. Council members had said the sound of the horns was a quality-of-life issue for people living near the tracks.

Other crossings in town have also been considered for quiet zones, such as the crossing at the proposed extension of Willmar Avenue Southwest into the new industrial park at the old airport site.

City staff did not have time to develop the Willmar Avenue quiet zone and work out an agreement with BNSF for this year because the airport land release, which allows the street extension and park development, was just approved in June by the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to Public Works Director Holly Wilson, 90 percent of the $258,750 Trott Avenue cost will be paid with state funds reimbursable by federal funds and 10 percent by the city.

Wilson said Trott Avenue's selection was based on a safety audit requested by city staff and performed by MnDOT. Wilson said Trott Avenue is the only crossing that does not have crossing gates, which qualifies it as a safety project and eligible for federal funding.

Equipment that will allow the crossing to be designated as a quiet zone will be installed in 2013, including flashing light signals with gates on both sides of the tracks and medians to prevent vehicles from crossing the tracks when the arms are down. The equipment will be maintained and operated by BNSF.

A federal rule allows local governments to restrict train horns at railroad crossings that meet certain criteria. The crossings are then considered to be within a quiet zone.

A quiet zone may be established after implementing safety improvements that provide the same level of risk reduction as would otherwise be provided by the train horn, according to the rule.

A quiet zone can be one crossing in a community, or several consecutive crossings in one or more communities. A quiet zone can be created along corridors shared by both railroad and rail transit.

The Federal Railroad Administration Train Horn Rule became effective June 24, 2005. The rule provides a process to determine what can be done to offset the lack of a train horn, to calculate the risk reduction associated with potential improvements, to formally document the silencing of the train horns and officially establish a quiet zone.

A qualifying quiet zone must show that the lack of a train horn does not present a significant risk of loss of life or serious personal injury and that other means compensate for significant risk

In other business, the council received a demonstration of the city's revamped website by Mark Boeschen, information systems coordinator. He and 12 other city employees revamped the website, which was created in 2001, to provide easier access to city information. Monday was the revamped site's launch day.

Boeschen said the group looked at the site from a citizen's perspective. Among the improvements, the site has a more modern design, is easier to update and find information, and has a "ticket'' with which citizens can report problems, such as street potholes.

Council members praised the revamped site and thanked staff for their work.

In other business, the council:

n Voted to sell $1,460,000 in general obligation improvement bonds to Oppenheimer & Co. of Minneapolis to finance construction of 2012 street improvements. Oppenheimer was the lowest of three bidders with a true interest rate of 2.06 percent.

n Listened as Yanish declared the month of July as Park and Recreation Month in Willmar.

WILLMAR -- The sound of train horns at the Trott Avenue Southwest railroad crossing will be a thing of the past next year under an agreement approved Monday by the Willmar City Council.

The agreement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the Minnesota Department of Transportation allows city staff to proceed with installation of improvements to create a zone where train horns are not sounded when a locomotive approaches and proceeds through the crossing.

Council action is in response to complaints made by citizens over the past several years about the number of train horns being sounded at railroad crossings. Council members had said the sound of the horns was a quality-of-life issue for people living near the tracks.

Other crossings in town have also been considered for quiet zones, such as the crossing at the proposed extension of Willmar Avenue Southwest into the new industrial park at the old airport site.

City staff did not have time to develop the Willmar Avenue quiet zone and work out an agreement with BNSF for this year because the airport land release, which allows the street extension and park development, was just approved in June by the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to Public Works Director Holly Wilson, 90 percent of the $258,750 Trott Avenue cost will be paid with state funds reimbursable by federal funds and 10 percent by the city.

Wilson said Trott Avenue's selection was based on a safety audit requested by city staff and performed by MnDOT. Wilson said Trott Avenue is the only crossing that does not have crossing gates, which qualifies it as a safety project and eligible for federal funding.

Equipment that will allow the crossing to be designated as a quiet zone will be installed in 2013, including flashing light signals with gates on both sides of the tracks and medians to prevent vehicles from crossing the tracks when the arms are down. The equipment will be maintained and operated by BNSF.

A federal rule allows local governments to restrict train horns at railroad crossings that meet certain criteria. The crossings are then considered to be within a quiet zone.

A quiet zone may be established after implementing safety improvements that provide the same level of risk reduction as would otherwise be provided by the train horn, according to the rule.

A quiet zone can be one crossing in a community, or several consecutive crossings in one or more communities. A quiet zone can be created along corridors shared by both railroad and rail transit.

The Federal Railroad Administration Train Horn Rule became effective June 24, 2005. The rule provides a process to determine what can be done to offset the lack of a train horn, to calculate the risk reduction associated with potential improvements, to formally document the silencing of the train horns and officially establish a quiet zone.

A qualifying quiet zone must show that the lack of a train horn does not present a significant risk of loss of life or serious personal injury and that other means compensate for significant risk

In other business, the council received a demonstration of the city's revamped website by Mark Boeschen, information systems coordinator. He and 12 other city employees revamped the website, which was created in 2001, to provide easier access to city information. Monday was the revamped site's launch day.

Boeschen said the group looked at the site from a citizen's perspective. Among the improvements, the site has a more modern design, is easier to update and find information, and has a "ticket'' with which citizens can report problems, such as street potholes.

Council members praised the revamped site and thanked staff for their work.

In other business, the council:

- Voted to sell $1,460,000 in general obligation improvement bonds to Oppenheimer & Co. of Minneapolis to finance construction of 2012 street improvements. Oppenheimer was the lowest of three bidders with a true interest rate of 2.06 percent.

- Listened as Yanish declared the month of July as Park and Recreation Month in Willmar.

Advertisement
West Central Tribune (320) 235-6769 customer support
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150
Advertisement
Advertisement
randomness