May 1, 2017
Chapel Hill: Battle Creek, Michigan has won a “Quiet Hero” award from Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet for creating a “Quiet Zone” approved by the Federal Railroad Administration. A Quiet Zone eliminates the routine use of train horns signaling an oncoming train. In Battle Creek, the Quiet Zone covers 11 railroad crossings.
The process of creating a Quiet Zone took years of discussion, planning, public comments, improving safety at the crossings, and closing some crossings to traffic. Battle Creek budgeted $3.5 million in bonds to close or upgrade six railroad crossings in the downtown area.
The Battle Creek Quiet Zone greatly improves public safety. Some railroad crossings have been eliminated, while additional safety measures were installed at the remaining crossings, such as four-quadrant gates, non-traversable curbs, and channelization devices. Quiet Zones have experienced far fewer train-related fatalities and serious injuries involving pedestrians or vehicles hit by trains.
The Quiet Zone also greatly improves quality of life in Battle Creek. About 36 trains pass through the busy downtown area of Battle Creek each day. The deafening blare of an estimated 864 horn blasts per day from multiple trains disturbed local residents, shopkeepers, and restaurant patrons for years, and have impeded downtown development.
Marjorie McCullagh, Professor of Nursing at the University of Michigan, notes that “the Quiet Zone reduces noise pollution for Battle Creek residents as well as visitors. Quiet Zones encourage the development of downtown apartments and condos, as they allow residents to sleep through the night without being blasted by train horns. Quiet Zones make a big difference for noise levels.
Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet, noted that “train horn noise is a significant problem. Millions of Americans are pounded every day with this incessant noise, disrupting sleep and daily life. Every community throughout the nation should create a Quiet Zone, to reduce noise levels and improve living conditions for their residents. It is time for the country to quiet down.”
For information about creating a Quiet Zone in your community, please consult the following information provided by the Federal Railroad Administration.
Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet is a national citizens’ organization opposed to noise pollution. Past winners of the Quiet Hero award include International Noise Awareness Day, the Italian Supreme Court (for upholding a ban on boom cars), and Maplewood, New Jersey (for a partial summertime ban on leaf blowers).