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Community Learns About Quiet Zones


Ottumwa residents recently had the opportunity to become better educated about quiet zones from expert Andy Mielke of SRF Consulting.  Mr. Mielke and his firm have been instrumental in assisting neighboring communities Burlington and Fairfield in implementing their quiet zones.   Ottumwa has seven crossings which could be converted to quiet zones.  Those in attendance that evening were surprised to learn that on the BNSF line alone, an average of 43 trains pass through town each day.  Currently, at each crossing, the train is required to sound its horn four times.  With seven crossings in downtown Ottumwa that translates into 1,204 horn blasts per day, each of which sounds at 110 decibels. Even though quieting the horns are what most people think quiet zones are for, Mr. Mielke pointed out that the real benefit is about making crossing safer.  ORLF President and CEO Brad Little reminded the group that converting to quiet zones could encompass multiple benefits, “it’s about enhancing the safety of the crossings, improved quality of life, and bringing more businesses and residents downtown.”