Council to decide on quiet zone
Marinette meeting set for Tuesday night
Sunday, March 02, 2014 6:00 PM
MARINETTE - Residents will finally hear Tuesday where the Marinette City Council stands in regards to the proposed train horn "quiet zone" that has been a hot issue for more about 18 months.
"This topic has come up time and time again," city engineer Brian Miller said. "There has been presentations and a consultant has presented his study to the council twice now. It's hard to say - hard to predict what the council will do about this."
During February's Civic Affairs, Traffic, Lights and Cemetery Committee meeting, there was a 4-1 vote to recommend to the council to pledge support for moving ahead with the quiet zone and the required street improvements. Tuesday's meeting will start at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
The proposal includes the closing of the railroad crossing on Ella Court Street and improvements to the crossings on Cleveland Avenue, Mary Street, Carney Avenue and Riverside Avenue and it will exclude the Roosevelt Road crossing from the quiet zone. The entire plan is estimated to cost $165,000.
Improvements would include barriers, gates and flashing lights at all crossings.
"If there are funds available, we could probably iron out the details and at least get started on the improvements this year," Miller said.
However, no funds have been set aside for the project yet.
If the plan is approved, Miller said there are still several steps the city must take which includes submitting forms to the Federal Rail Association for review. The FRA will then review the case and either approve the quiet zone or stop it in its tracks.
Several Marinette residents have continuously appeared at city meetings to support going forward with the quiet zone.
According to Alderwoman Martha Karban, chairperson of the committee, the council has been discussing the quiet zone issue since September of 2012, when the group of citizens first pushed the issue.
"We told them then that we would hold off making a decision until after the year's budget came out, and then we pushed it off until after the city's needs assessment survey was finished," Karban said. "I felt that it's time to move forward and at least pick one of the four options from the survey."
A survey was distributed among residents in 2013 asking their thoughts on the quiet zone issue. It gave them five options - four options were different scenarios that would work toward the quiet zone and the fifth option was to not support the quiet zone at all.
Out of 4,695 surveys distributed, only 20 percent came back. Of those, 60 percent did not support the quiet zone.
Alderman Dennis Colburn, a member of the Civic Affairs, Traffic, Lights and Cemetery Committee, has also said he does not support the quiet zone, but not because he believes it isn't an important issue.
"The reason I voted no to recommend this to council is that the city just completed a needs assessment on all of the projects that we as a city need to address and some of the needs address failing or out growing buildings for city services," he said. "With the needs assessment we where given a list of what the company that conducted the study thought we should do first. We did add the quiet zone to that list of projects and as far as I am concerned it's something we will do, just not right away."
Residents will get one more chance to express their views on the quiet zone during the public comments on the city council's agenda for Tuesday.
If the council approves going ahead with the quiet zone and qualifies for the designation, it will be the 76th train horn quiet zone in Wisconsin. Wisconsin has one of the highest amount of quiet zones in the nation, according to a 2014 Federal Railroad Administration report. It is second only to Texas which has 95 zones. There are 591 quiet zones nationwide.