Railroad Quiet Zone
What's a 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, a track obstruction, trains pass each other, or a train leaves or enters a station. 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's quiet zone took effect on Dec. 28, 2016, following a year-long process of taking comments, improving safety at the crossings, and closing some of them to traffic. This came after years of previous work and discussion.
With the quiet zone in place, 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 downtown-area 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.
Increased safety measures at the crossings compensate for the absence of train horns.
Closing a crossing is the most effective safety measure.
By the fall of 2016, the Division, Fountain and Spencer street crossings had closed, following stakeholder discussions and City Commission approval. 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.
These closures represent a significant portion of the risk reduction required to implement the quiet zone, and made the city eligible for closure incentive funds from federal and state agencies, and the railroads.
The other crossing treatments 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.
Measured sound at several crossings BEFORE, averaged across the corridor. Red is the most harmful sound level.
Measured sound at several crossings AFTER, averaged across the corridor, a significant difference from before.
Measured sound levels before and after quiet zone implementation, with red the most harmful sound level.
This sign alerts train engineers to sound routine horns at crossings ahead; this is no longer required at Fountain, Division and Spencer streets.
Safety measures added to the McCamly Street crossing.
Safety measures added to the South Kendall Street crossing.
The Division Street crossing closure took effect on Aug. 24, 2016.
CN freight train travels past the Intermodal Transportation Center near McCamly Street.
McCamly Street crossing with standard two-quadrant gates, bells and flashing lights.
Example of a four-quadrant gate.