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Quiet zone request approved

After nearly two years of petitioning the Federal Railroad Administration for relief from train whistles at the McPherson Street crossing, Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said that request has finally been approved.

“I feel relieved that the result turned out the way it did,” Blankenship said. “It took a lot of work and communication from numerous agencies throughout the railroad community.”

The FRA recently notified the city of Ironton that a 24-hour quiet zone would be implemented at the crossing within 21 days. That would be around the week of May 11.

It was persistence and determination that got the attention of the FRA, Blankenship said.

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 request letters gave way to an online comment period for citizens to express their want for the quiet zone. Following the comment period, the FRA reviewed those comments and the requests made by the city.

“I want to thank the citizens who commented online,” Blankenship said. “And Congressman Bill Johnson, who wrote a letter to the FRA.”

The McPherson Street crossing is closed to traffic at all times except when the city’s floodgates are raised. When the floodgates are raised, an officer is posted at the crossing, Blankenship said.

According to the letter from the FRA granting the quiet zone, the waiver expires in five years and the city must reapply no less than six months prior to the expiration date.

The letter also states a law enforcement officer must make a daily inspection of the locked crossing to ensure the gates are closed and that no vandalism has occurred.