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— Any hope of only hearing the rumble of huge diesel engines

and of steel wheels carrying heavy loads on rails passing through a quiet zone

in Gentry has been put on hold indefinitely because of safety issues and cost.

The city council on Monday voted unanimously (except for councilwoman

Janie Parks, who was away on city-related business) to indefinitely table plans

to proceed with establishing a quiet zone in the city.

The vote came after city attorney Jay Williams told council members that

establishing a quiet zone in which trains did not sound air horns at crossings

was possible but would be difficult to achieve for Gentry.

According to Williams, a number of conditions must be met before a qui

et zone could be established. These included quiet-zone crossings being one

half mile from other crossings where train engineers are required to sound

warning blasts with locomotive air horns; gated crossings would have to have

double gates on each side or have an approved barrier between lanes to pre

vent traffic from going around the gates; and also required would be a warn

ing device to alert drivers if power was out and the gates and audible warning

devices were not functioning.

The crossing near McKee Foods would not qualify because of the close

proximity of another spur crossing. Barriers would likely not work on S.

Collins Ave. or Pioneer Lane without widening the streets, and a barrier on

Main Street would make entrance to a number of businesses or a turn onto

South McKinnon or South Otis Avenues difficult. It was also unknown if the

state would give approval to a barrier on East Main Street, which is also a state

highway.

The approximate cost just to

put a sidewalk crossing with a

gate on South Collins would be

about $250,000, Gentry Mayor

Wes Hogue said, because the

electrical system for the crossing

would have to be moved.

"I'm not in favor of pursuing (a

quiet zone)," said councilman

Kyle Jordan. "I won't support it,"

he added, saying he didn't want to

be responsible if someone got hit

at the crossing after the council

voted for a quiet zone.

Some council members noted that engineers have already cut back on abusing the horn sounding following the publicity on the matter and have quit sounding the horns continuously through town.

Current Federal Railroad Administration regulations require horns to sound at each public crossing where no quiet zone exists. Engineers are to begin sounding the locomotive air horns 15 to 20 seconds - but no more than 20 seconds - before atrain reaches a crossing and sound them until the train enters the crossing. The normal code is two long blasts, a short blast, and a long blast as the train enters the crossing.

Council member Jason Barrett moved to table the pursuit of a quiet zone indefinitely. His motion received a second from council member James Furgason, who said constituents requested that the council look into it, and the council did.

News, Pages 1, 2 on 08/05/2009

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