A group of Bellevue citizens who have long been annoyed by train whistles sounding off at the 399th Avenue Crossing north of town near Sedgwick will soon be able to sleep a bit easier.
Bellevue City Clerk Abbey Skrivseth announced last week that she was able to reach a representative of the Canadian Pacific Railroad to look into the matter.
“As you know the City has a quiet zone in place in Bellevue, but the trains still sound their horn at 399th Avenue,” said Skrivseth. “Upon Mayor Roger Michel’s request, I did research in the City file and I found that this crossing was always listed in our FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) paperwork.”
Skrivseth made the assumption that Canadian Pacific did not have the correct list or that some miscommunication was taking place.
“The engineers have to sound the horn because that is what their working papers say. I have been trying for over a month to get a hold of the CP and finally I made a break through,” she explained. The railroad is now going to update their paperwork and procedures for their employees so that 399th Avenue will be included in their paperwork for the quiet zone.”
Skrivseth noted that it will take time for Canadian Pacific to implement the new paperwork, and it will take time for the engineers to adjust as they are used to sounding the horn in north Bellevue, and horns still could be heard since engineers have the right to sound the horn in emergency situations.
“An emergency situation could be a person or a child getting too close to the crossing and we have a our new trail by/on the crossing so this could occur frequently,” concluded Skrivseth.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, (FRA) it is committed to reducing the number of collisions at highway‐rail crossings, while establishing a consistent standard for communities who opt to preserve or enhance quality of life for residents by establishing ‘quiet zones’ within which use of train horns at crossings is prohibited.
The City of Bellevue is one of these ‘quiet zones,’ although bells to sound at the town’s main intersection at State and Second Streets.
Federal regulation requires that locomotive horns begin sounding 15–20 seconds before entering public highway‐rail grade crossings, no more than one‐quarter mile in advance. Only a public authority, the governmental entity responsible for traffic control or law enforcement at the crossings, is permitted to create quiet zones.
A quiet zone is a section of a rail line at least one‐half mile in length that contains one or more consecutive public highway‐rail crossings at which locomotive horns are not routinely sounded when trains are approaching the crossings.
The prohibited use of train horns at quiet zones only applies to trains when approaching and entering crossings and does not include train horn use within passenger stations or rail yards.
Train horns may be sounded in emergency situations or to comply with other railroad or FRA rules even within a quiet zone. Quiet zone regulations also do not eliminate the use of locomotive bells at crossings. Therefore, a more appropriate description of a designated quiet zone would be a “reduced train horn area.”
In other matters concerning Bellevue and the Canadian Pacific Railroad, CP officials have agreed to pay over $500,000 for damage caused on Second Street when the railroad was being replaced with large cranes a few years ago.