WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published November 28, 2009, 09:59 PM

Grand Forks Neighbors Seek Quiet Zone

Homeowners living near railroad crossings say they want a quiet zone implemented by next year in Grand Forks.

By: Joel Porter, WDAZ

Grand Forks homeowners are one step closer to more peace and quiet.

The city is considering implementing quiet zones at 11 intersections around Grand Forks.

Neighbors living near West Lanark Drive have to enjoy the quiet when they can. At all times of the day and night, they're subject to the blaring sound of the B-N-S-F.

"I think there's a train at roughly 2:30, 3 a.m., it's like clock-work for some of the kids," Stacy Olson said. Olson lives within a block of the train crossing on the west end of town.

"It could be deafening, especially if you're outside, even when we're inside, with the windows and doors all shut up, it can be hard to hear the TV," Chris Rydland said. Rydland and her husband have lived in the neighborhood for five and a half years.

The tracks are less than a block away from many of the houses. The noise is so bothersome, some families have already moved, and those living nearby say homes on the block are a tough sale.

"Because it's such a nuisance that it makes it difficult to even consider moving or putting your house on the market, because you know it's not anything anybody'd be interested in," Olson said.

"At any given time, there's usually a handful of homes for sale on that side of the street," Rydland said.

That could all change soon. The city is considering putting in quiet zones which would silence trains in city limits. Garth Rydland and his wife Chris have been outspoken advocates for the quiet zone, and say the cost appears reasonable.

"I'm very encouraged by how little it appears to cost the city of Grand forks and the fact that state dollars is a 90-10 share, so 10 percent local share for under 13 thousand, it looks like we could have a whistle free zone in Grand Forks," Garth said.

Train engineers are required to slow down to about 15 miles an hour once they enter city limits but since they're also required to sound the horn a minimum number of times, that's something nearby homeowners say can drag out the noise to an unbearable level.

"They're above 100 decibels, as they're blowing their whistle and I think it's about the equivalent of a jet engine in your driveway," Garth said.

If approved, new constant warning time systems would have to be installed at most crossings. Rydland says he hopes to see a plan approved by next year.

Earlier this year, the state legislature also passed a motion creating a grant process for cities to apply for a whistle-free zone.