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Shhhhhh ... Kingman has a quiet zone

A train passes through downtown Kingman in August 2010.

Fanfare absent when Council OK'd funding needed to quiet train traffic

KINGMAN - Walk along the 300 and 400 blocks of Andy Devine Avenue downtown and wait for two trains to pass each other near Fourth Street. Now try to imagine sleeping through the night because of the noise level.

"One (train passing by) is OK, but when there are two trains honking their horns - it's just crazy," Linda Tyree said. "You can't hear the person the next to you."

Tyree is a day shift bartender at the Sportsmans Club, which is located almost directly across from the Fourth Street railroad crossing.

When Tyree was informed that the city of Kingman is in the process of establishing a Quiet Zone for downtown, she was elated.

"It sure would be nice," she said. "And a lot better on my ears."

The Quiet Zone project will remove the need for trains to sound their horns at the three at-grade crossings downtown on Second and Fourth streets and on Topeka Street at Sixth Street. Appropriately enough, perhaps, the City Council quietly approved the project when it adopted the current year's budget, with no direct discussion about it. Generally, a project that has been discussed and on wish lists for years - and the Quiet Zone fits the bill - would generate at least a little bit of fanfare when funding is finally available to pay for it.

The first $350,000 will come from the proceeds from its sale of the Development Services building at 201 N. Fourth St. to Werner Fleischmann, who has converted the building into Beale Celebrations. The project has been funded at $370,000 and anything more than the $350,000 will get funded as a result of the recent tax amendments that Council passed and that took affect July 1, according to Finance Director Coral Loyd.

"We got money from downtown, so we agreed to use it downtown," Councilmember Mark Wimpee said. "We're hoping to have that done by the International Route 66 Festival."

The festival can bring 10,000 people to Kingman and a downtown void of trains blaring their horns would most likely make for a better experience. Though it's possible for the work to be down by then, there is not a guarantee.

"That depends on the railroad," City Engineer Greg Henry said. "They'll have the opportunity to approve the plans, but that is an unknown process."

The city is currently working on the design plans for the project, and Henry said once the plans are submitted to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co., it has 90 days to review the plans and provide feedback.

"We can't say it is going to take the full 90 days, but we have to plan for the worst case," Henry said. "The work itself is straightforward."

The engineer said once the final go-ahead is given, the median and sidewalk work shouldn't take more than 75 days. But before that, the city has to send the work out to bid and that process will cost some days as well.

Werner Fleischmann, a developer who also owns the Beale Street Courtyard business plaza, commercial property at 432 Beale St. and the Hotel Brunswick is now able to look forward to reopening the Brunswick. He said at his Beale Celebrations grand opening dinner on Oct. 26 that with the noise from the trains, he would not be able to open the hotel side of the Brunswick "because it doesn't make sense to offer rooms when the guests can't sleep."

He said he was hopeful that when the hotel is ready by the end of 2014, the quiet zone project would be done as well and he could open up the rooms.

When the quiet zones are installed, there is one question Linda Tyree won't have to ask as much anymore.

"What did you say?"

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