Quiet zone request under review by FRA

Published 12:29 am Sunday, February 15, 2015

An effort to establish a quiet zone at the McPherson Street railroad crossing could soon be coming to an end.

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said the comment period for residents to give their written support to the petition that would prevent trains from sounding their horns at the crossing is closed and the Federal Railroad Administration will now make a decision.

“For the last year a half we’ve been working on this,” Blankenship said. “We made it through the comment period, which was 30 days. Now the FRA will review all information, including the comments from residents, and make a determination.”

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Blankenship said the best-case scenario would be to make the crossing a 24-hour quiet zone, while the second-best option would be a 10 p.m.-6 a.m. quiet zone at the crossing.

The mayor also said he felt optimistic about the petition.

“I spoke with a representative from the FRA earlier this week who had some additional questions which, in my option, actually helped our request,” he said. “One was, ‘Do you have any reports of trespassing or vehicle crossing?’ No, it’s gated and locked.”

The regional FRA office in Canton, which covers Ironton, will submit its recommendation to the Washington, D.C., office, which is favorable, Blankenship said.

“It doesn’t mean we’ll get it, but if the region is recommending, I’m hoping the federal office will recommend it as well,” he said.

Blankenship said he expects an answer in the next two months.

The mayor started the process to establish a quiet zone in 2013 and wrote in a letter to the FRA that the sounding horns have a “detrimental impact … on a large number of citizens who own residences very close to the railroad tracks in the vicinity of (the) crossing. The sounding of train horns from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. is very disturbing, annoying and disruptive to the peaceful enjoyment of their property by these affected citizens.”

The McPherson Street crossing is closed at all times except with the city’s flood gates are raised, as this makes the crossing the only way in and out of town.

Blankenship has authority to request the limited waiver with respect to the application of 49 CFR Part 222, aka the train horn rule, which permits locomotive engineers to begin sounding train horns at least 15 seconds and no more than 20 seconds in advance of all public grade crossings.