Railroad Quiet Zone

A Quiet Zone is a series of railroad crossings at which trains are prohibited from sounding their horns - unless there is an emergency or track obstruction. The goal is to decrease noise levels for homes and businesses near the tracks and increase the quality of life.

The City of Battle Creek in January 2016 filed a Notice of Intent to create an approximately three-mile Quiet Zone through the downtown area. We hope to fully establish the Quiet Zone by the end of 2016, pending construction schedules with the railroads.
We anticipate great benefit to the downtown, including guests at the McCamly Plaza Hotel and residents living in or close to downtown, particularly with the anticipation of additional downtown residential opportunities.

The 11 crossings included in the city's proposed Quiet Zone can be seen on the map below: Spencer Street, two at East Michigan Avenue, Elm Street, Main Street, South Avenue, Division Street, Fountain Street, Capital Avenue SW, McCamly Street and South Kendall Street.
Battle Creek Quiet Zone map

Safety measures

Increased safety measures at the crossings compensate for the absence of train horns.
A public hearing and vote by the City Commission will be held during the Feb. 2 public meeting regarding the closing of railroad crossings -- the most effective safety measure -- on Fountain, Division and Spencer streets.
These closures represent a significant portion of the risk reduction required to implement the Quiet Zone here and have been discussed with various stakeholders, including nearby businesses. Additionally, this action will begin the process wherein the city will be eligible for closure incentive funds from federal and state agencies, as well as local railroads.

By the fall of 2016, all three crossings were closed, and train whistle alert signs were removed; even before the establishment of the quiet zone, trains do not have to sound their routine horns at a closed crossing. The required signs, guardrails and other amenities are in place, and we're also are looking at ways to beautify these areas.

The other treatments we're using are four-quadrant gates on South Avenue and Capital Avenue SW and two-quadrant gates with supplemental safety measures or alternative safety measures at the other crossings. Those include non-traversable curbs and channelization devices.
The City Commission in July approved a contract with Hoffman Bros. for the curbs and channelization, and with Grand Trunk Railroad for the gates. Agreements with the railroads are necessary because they own the track rights-of-way and will complete the improvements in those areas.

This work continues late in 2016.
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Battle Creek's Quiet Zone

The city's Notice of Intent included a 60-day comment period, during which time the FRA, state agencies for highway and rail safety, and the railroads that operate on the lines could comment on the project. After all safety improvements are in place, the city will file a Notice of Establishment, with a similar comment period for the above-mentioned stakeholders, which serves to publish the date the Quiet Zone will be placed in effect. 

We hope to announce that date at the end of 2016. Stay tuned and get your additional questions answered with the FAQs below!