Tipp City considering railroad quiet zone

Tipp City is looking for more information on the cost to establish a railroad quiet zone to end frequent train horns sounding and improve safety at crossings through town. 

A citizens’ quiet zone committee has been meeting for more than a year to explore how quiet zones work and if one would be beneficial for the community.

The committee’s chairman James Trzeciak reviewed the committee’s work and recommendations for each crossing during a recent meeting with the Tipp City Council. 

Trzeciak said he volunteered for the committee because he lives two houses  from the railroad tracks. “It is crazy sometimes how engineers just hang onto the horns all the way through (the city),” he said.

Among the committee’s findings was that safety measures “at all of our crossings are at the bare minimum right now,” Trzeciak said. 

The committee early on conducted a survey that drew about 400 responses. Questions asked included if the person would be inclined to support a move toward quiet crossings. Of the responding, 75 percent said they would.

Even with a quiet zone, trains can sound their horns in emergency situations or to comply with federal regulations.

Among committee goals are to find out what the public would like to see done with the crossings, Trzeciak said. The citizens committee has not held a meeting since early in the year because of COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions.

The committee’s recommendation included the possible closing of the German Street closing on the south end of the city and the installation of gates and additional safety equipment at others. In addition to German Street, the  crossings involved in the study are Third Street, Plum Street, Walnut Street, Main Street, Dow Street, Park Street and Broadway.

The crossings to the north at Crane Road and Evanston Road to the south were not included in the study because they are located in Monroe Twp.

How much the project would cost and who would pay for what remains to be determined.

City Manager Tim Eggleston said the quiet zone process involves several steps, requirements and agencies including the Federal Rail Administration, CSX railroad and Ohio Rail Division among others. The Ohio Rail Division,  for example, will not help pay for a project unless a crossing is closed, he said.

Council would need to decide if a closing would be acceptable, or if the costs that would have been paid by the agency would instead by picked up locally.

Council agreed by consensus to have the city pay up to $50,000 for an engineering study to provide additional information on project costs. Eggleston said costs likely would exceed $1 million. A proposal to renew the city's capital improvement income tax includes money for quiet zone costs, if council decides to move forward with a project.

 “There are so many unknowns at this point without that information,” said Councilman Frank Scenna of the engineering study.

Council President Katie Berbach agreed. “We need to have information to show the community on the cost to us depending on what options we choose,” she said.

Mayor Joe Gibson said he would be “very reluctant” to close any of the streets. “I think we need to tread softly on this. I think we have more questions than answers,” he said.

More information on the quiet zone committee’s work and information it has collected is available on the Tipp City website at tippcityohio.gov.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

About the Author