RI hires study of railroad quiet zone

Posted Online: April 14, 2014, 9:37 pm
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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com
ROCK ISLAND - Aldermen voted Monday to hire consultants to study narrowing 1st Avenue to create a railroad quiet zone in downtown Rock Island.

In a quiet zone, locomotive engineers are not required to sound a train's horn when approaching public railroad crossings. But to create a quiet zone, Rock Island must improve the area's signalling and safety devices to meet Federal Railroad Administration standards.

City officials propose creating a railroad quiet zone along 1st Avenue (Illinois 92) between Centennial Bridge and the Rock Island Arsenal Viaduct. The plan is in an early stage.

Rock Island's economic development director Jeff Eder said more space would be needed on 1st Avenue to install new cross-arms at railroad crossings to meet federal standards. To get that space, 1st Avenue could be narrowed to two lanes between Centennial Bridge and the Rock Island Arsenal Viaduct, with a center turn lane between 16th and 20th streets.

Aldermen on Monday voted 5-2 to award a $69,800 contract to Rock Island-based Missman Inc.
to study the impact of narrowing the street. The consultants also will look improving pedestrian access along the avenue and to nearby Schwiebert Park and the Mississippi River.

Funding for the study comes from the city's downtown tax increment financing district account.

Mr. Eder said the study was necessary because 1st Avenue is state-controlled. The state will require a traffic analysis before considering a reduction in the number of lanes, he said.

Ald. Kate Hotle, 5th Ward, said she supported the quiet zone because constituents often complain about the noise of train horns. Federal regulations require locomotive engineers to sound train horns at least 15 seconds, and no more than 20 seconds, before public grade crossings.

In a quiet zone, trains could still sound their horns in an emergency but would not be required to do so otherwise.

Alds. Chuck Austin, 7th Ward, and Ivory Clark, 1st Ward, voted against spending the traffic study. Ald. Austin wanted the study wrapped into a broader downtown development study, and Ald. Clark said he would prefer to see the money spent on more pressing needs, such as basic street repairs.

Also on Monday, aldermen approved a special use permit for a two-chair beauty salon in the basement of an office building at 2100 18th Ave. John and Gloria Streiter sought the permit because the area's zoning designation doesn't allow retail and service-type commercial uses.


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