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Quiet Zone tabled until spring

Perham city councilors won’t be making any new decisions about a Quiet Zone any time soon.

After a brief discussion at a meeting Monday, councilors decided it would be best to gather more information before moving ahead with any possible plans, tabling the issue until spring.

 In early December, councilors were planning to file a notice of intent with the Federal Railroad Administration as the next step in the Quiet Zone planning process. Ultimately, they wanted to bring a $1.9 million implementation option to voters later this year.

An accident at the 6th Avenue N.W. crossing on Dec. 14, however, put a hold on that plan.

Now, it appears, city leaders will be taking a ‘time out’ through the winter, in hopes of finding a more cost-effective option.

City Manager Kelcey Klemm said Monday that the Quiet Zone was talked about at length at a recent Public Works and Safety Committee meeting, and committee members expressed concern about the high cost of the project.

“They wondered if there’d be a way to lower the cost, which led to discussions on medians and traffic flow,” relayed Klemm.

The committee recommended that city staff talk to KLN and other businesses that would be impacted by changes made at railroad crossings, according to Klemm. In addition, committee members thought the city should wait until spring to evaluate traffic flow at intersections.

Councilor Eric Spencer suspected that the cost of the Quiet Zone could be cut down significantly if the plan called for more medians in place of full safety gates at some of the crossings, as the $1.9 million plan proposes.

Klemm said other cost-saving options may exist, as well.

Such changes to the plan would likely affect safety ratings; the city would need to consult with its contracted firm, SRF Consulting Group, to determine what the impact would be.

Perham city leaders have been considering the establishment of a Quiet Zone in town since the spring of 2012. A Quiet Zone designation would reduce train noise throughout the downtown area.

Marie Johnson
Marie Johnson (formerly Nitke) came to the Perham Focus after several years as the Education and Arts & Entertainment Editor at the Herald-Review of Grand Rapids, Minn. She lives in rural Ottertail with her husband, Dan, and their spunky yellow lab, Louisa.
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