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10/18/2011 6:00:00 AM
Study to silence train whistles in Kingman complete
Whistle-free downtown comes at a high price
JC AMBERLYN/MinerA train rushes past the railroad crossing at 4th Street. This crossing may potentially become part of a

A train rushes past the railroad crossing at 4th Street. This crossing may potentially become part of a "quiet zone."

Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - The Kingman City Council awarded a $31,000 contract to Felsburg Holt & Ullevig for a design and concept study of a potential "railroad quiet zone" ten months ago.

The study is done, and the consulting firm is slated to present its findings and recommendations to Council tonight.

A railroad quiet zone is an area with one or more consecutive public crossings where train horns are not regularly sounded.

The study looked at three downtown railroad crossings - Topeka, Fourth and Second Streets. Several requirements focused on making crossings safe enough so that train operators don't have to use their horns must be met to convert an area to a quiet zone.

Potential quiet zones must be at least half-a-mile in length along the railroad right-of way, and crossings must be equipped with warning and traffic-control devices as well as bells to warn pedestrians.

The focus of the study was to find out if supplemental safety measures or wayside horns need to be used to make up for the dangers associated with the silencing of train horns. Compliant supplemental safety measures that could work include crossing closures, four-quadrant gate systems, raised medians and one-way street conversions.

According to the study, Burlington Northern Santa Fe promised to contribute $25,000 for each crossing Kingman decides to close, if any.

The study recommends the construction of 100-feet long, 3-foot high raised medians on both the east- and westbound approaches to the Topeka Street crossing. The pavement would need to be widened, and a curb and gutter would need to be added for the crossing approaches under this option, according to the study. The raised-medians option carries a $120,000 price tag, whereas installing wayside horns would cost $130,000, constructing a four-quadrant gate system would cost $300,000 and closing the crossing would cost $40,000.

Similar to the Topeka Street recommendation, the study suggests constructing 75 feet of 4-foot tall medians on both sides of the Fourth Street crossing. Again, this is the cheapest option with an estimated price of $130,000. A four-quadrant gate system and wayside horn would cost $400,000 and $340,000 in this case, respectively.

For the Second Street crossing, the study suggests closure because of the $50,000 price tag and relatively low amounts of daily traffic - approximately 380 vehicles per day. However, the city is concerned with closing the crossing because of the impact it would have on downtown access. According to the study, the next best option would be the construction of raised medians.

By constructing raised medians at the Topeka and Fourth Street crossings and closing the Second Street crossing, the city could create a railroad quiet zone for about $310,000. If the city decides to construct raised medians at all three crossings, it can have its railroad quiet zone for about $370,000.

Though the study is completed and findings will be presented to Council tonight, there is still quite a lot that needs to get done before the city can implement the quiet zone. First, the city needs to approve funding and improvements, submit a notice of intent, design the improvements, construct the improvements and then implement the zone.

Once funding is secured, the quiet zone would go live in about 18 months, according to the study. The recommended options make it so the city can avoid upgrading railroad safety equipment at the three crossings.

Council meets at 5:30 p.m. today at 310 N. Fourth St.

ICT - Trotters RV
Related Stories:
• Kingman Letters: Whistling for safety
• Council to discuss project priorities today
• Letter: Wasting money on quiet zones

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, October 23, 2011
Article comment by: Casey Jones

Being relatively new in town I figure that those two downtown underpasses beneath the railroad were retro-fitted to allow for safer crossing of the tracks. I have to think that if you simply blocked off the surface street crossing (s?) there would be little (or smaller) reason to blast those horns so thoroughly. Why don't we harness some common sense, block and gate those surface streets (at least at night) and contact the railroad to see if that changes things?

Heck, maybe even ask them before we spend any money.

There, I saved you another $31,000.

Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Article comment by: Donnae Ellis

We can hear them out here occasionally near the college if the wind is just right. What a beautiful rustic noise. I CHOOSE not to move down town because I don't want to get any closer to it.

Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Article comment by: Capt. Nice

My guess is the train was here blowing it's whistle long before any of the complainers moved next to the rail road. If your dumb enough to move in next to the RR, you don't have any say as to how noisy they are, but no, in our society, if you move in next to a business or what ever you don't like, you can get it shut down or moved. No wonder businesses move out of the US with laws like we have.
We live six miles from the RR and on a still night we can hear them blow their horns and does not bother us in the least, so put up with it or move!
Some where I read a town built up around a hog farm....guess who had to move?

Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Article comment by: David Gaither

Speaking of train whistles...start listening for those "off in the distance" train whistles in most movies that you watch. You'll hear one at least once, during the movie. What's with that??

Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Article comment by: bla bla

I must say im with Linda Athens on this one. I also live downtown because the rent is MUCH cheaper here than uptown. I dont mind the trains but its those damn train idiots that blow those horns from one end of town to the other end... CONTINUOUSLY. One night a little before midnight as well as many other occasions, i have timed those horns at AT LEAST five minutes straight going off. We just do not need that kind of noise. If it was MY call, id vote to have the ******* trains moved outside of town and actually it would be cheaper that way.... and SF has plenty of money to relocate the tracks. This way the city PAYS NOTHING and 'precious SANTA FE' gets thier wish... by closing down as many crossings as they possibly can! Another note, the trains very seldom stop here anymore anyways, unless its 5 minutes to change crews but ive also noticed that they dont even do that anymore. The train crews ride in a van outside of town to change crews , in Griffith for example. I know this because one of my mines are around Griffith.

Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Article comment by: realist... the real one

This is a case of potentially taxing the whole for the needs (or in this case, wants) of a few. Generally, in any type of situation where a small part of a city is afflicted with a "problem", an improvement district is created. So, if the folks downtown don't want to hear the train anymore, they should foot the bill biannually in their mortgage. Let's start with that $31K whether any further progress is made or not.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Allan Gleason

I never ever thought that I'd agree with Linda Athens, EVER! But she is right on this!

Late on a clear night, I can hear the train horn.... and I live four miles away on Hualapai Mountain Road. It is not an unpleasant sound AT this distance, but I do note that the engineers diabolically sound their horns all the way through old Kingman for a continuous blast lasting ten or fifteen seconds at the wee hours like 3AM! The blasts are certainly not just at the crossings but throughout all of "Old Kingman". It seems as though they have a vendetta against the city and I'm sure they're violating some law. Are there any lawyers her in Kingman who might want to look into this, or are poor folks in Kingman beyond their interest/financial threshold?

And the sound of a very loud air horn is not the same as the toots of the old coal fired engines of my youth... They certainly are not 'nostalgic'!

Kingman really has little use for the railroad since 99% of the railroad traffic goes through Kingman and is no longer used to transport people or goods the way railroads did years ago.

Finally, those who worried about the city's expense of less than half a million dollars must really be out of this world when we as a people gladly spend trillions of dollars to maintain wars all about the globe and bail out banks who aren't happy with the billions of dollars they make every quarter!

But, hey! I'll hire the guy who'll provide a report on the noise for five bucks if it'll do any good.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Patty Flapjacks

I moved here as a child in 1971 when downtown was all of Kingman. There were about 15 trains a day with much quieter whistles that blew a few times, not 100 trains that brow their horns 20 times at 130dB. Every citizen in Kingman benefits economically from trains, as they transport the majority of goods in this nation. Only a few have paid the price.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Atchoo Topeka

@ Linda - You are right. The train did not blow its whistle so loud, so long, and so often years ago as it has in the last several years. When I first moved here over 25 years ago (not downtown), it was not the problem then that it became several years later. When I would do my business in old downtown more recently, the whistle blows deafeningly. Most of the houses south across the tracks were already there before the whistles became so obnoxiously loud. It is not fair to ask these people to move.

Despite what one writer said in an early article, the train employees are going above and beyond the rules by being heavy-handed on the whistle. I believe it became a federal law that they do have to blow the whistle at a certain decible due to public pressure after people were killed by crossing the tracks in front of a train. These track crossers were usually drunk, suicidal or mentally/physically incapacitated. Most of us know better.

Asking the train system to lower the volume/number of their whistles is the least expensive and logical way to go, but it is not that easy to change a federal law. Will the person who is up to this challenge of getting a federal law changed, please step forward?

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Linda Athens


A little correction. You said the only thing down here (downtown - the REAL Kingman. Haha!) is a bar and Circle K.

We have the best Mexican food restaurant, El Palacio, right across from the train depot. We also have Calico's which has great food, a new rib joint half a block from the train depot and a new sandwich shop along with a number of other eateries. I think there is a wine shop also.

The beautiful old Kingman Court House made out of our native tufa stone along with other county and city buildings, Locomotive Park where there is something going on all the time including fairs, street drags, parades, street dances.

Don't forget DJ's, the 50's cafe at the corner of 1st and Front Street, The Powerhouse with lots of interesting stuff, gift shop and auctions, Canada Mart with not only gas but it's wonderful collection of Navajo jewelry for sale including squash blossoms, Support Arizona's wonderful silversmiths, the Navajos. And don't forget the Hopi's and Zuni's jewelry, equally gorgeous.

And old Metcalf Park right on the main drag where I and others had many a birthday party way back when and which often has something going on including many weddings, bands playing, art shows, etc. And at times when nothing is going on, kids absolutely love playing in this park. Some kids equipment, mature trees, tables, grills, restrooms and an abundance of peace. Take a break from Stockton Hill Road. Pack a lunch and sit in Metcalf Park and eat it and enjoy the peace, the laughter of kids on the swings, the hum of mothers sitting together visiting while watching their kids.

Up the street half a block past the new/old Lee Williams High School with it's beautiful new landscaping is the old city swimming pool that I received at last 100 second degree sunburns swimming in and which appears to me to now be new. And across the street from Metcalf Park is the wonderful museum.

This museum is an absolute gem, started by a lot of our parents and grandparents including my own. If you haven't been there, you need to go.

We also have Quiznos, Carl's Jr, and a number of other fast food type restaurants. There are antique stores on Beale Street, a guitar store and numerous other little shops, all interesting to visit. And I believe the Santa Fe Depot is or is being restored.

And on the south side of Kingman, something that wasn't there before. There are two parks, both of them well kept and very, very pleasant. Whoever takes care of the parks in Kingman, they do one great job.

So we don't have just absolutely nothing down here and what we do have is a wonderful feeling of peace and calm, especially in the evenings ....except for one thing. That train whistle blowing loud and long and very often.

If the Hilltop part of Kingman is deemed successful, it is because it was built on a great foundation, downtown Kingman that was once filled with very good people running good businesses, attending good churches and being great citizens. And the people I know down here are still good people.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Richard Kale

What a waist of money .. I The railroad is and always will be part of Kingman. The people get use to the noise, and to some, it is not noise, it is a part of Kingman. The money can be spent on somthing all people of Kingman can appreciate. If the noise is such a big problem, why not ask the people there opion on the subject, not just a hand full.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Bob Smith

It's funny that people commenting on articles in the paper actually have no clue about the separation of government entities (state, county, city) and which entity pays for what.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Warren O

Donna -

There are lots of reasons why a person might live near railroad tracks, and it's not a wise idea to assume (as you do) that choice is involved.

Philip -

Those tracks have train on them every twelve minutes, and the horns blow at 130 dB. That is neither 'infrequent' nor 'small'.

For what it's worth, I'm miles away from the tracks, and so don't really have a horse in the race - but I don't see why anyone would object to noise control measures, apart from the obvious concerns about money.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Downtown Resident

I don't mind the train horn. However, If I lived any closer (less than a mile) I would definately have a problem with it.
Sometimes it's a little annoying when I'm on the phone or talking to a neighbor.
As far as I understand, the money for this cannot go to the schools so that is off the table.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: WOULD BE NICE

this would be a big shot in the arm for downtown tourist trades.......the hotels would be restored and stay open.........the tourist trade would fill up the old shops etc......i take the train to california, leaves around midnite and the only thing down there is the questionable bar and circle k a few blocks up....come on lets do the obvious to better Kingmans image.....this is what really stands in the way of revitalizing.....'.the old west' feel instead of the 'old" feel

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: gail ledebur

Have they ever heard of a crossing sign
Not being smart it worked years ago.2JB

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: m m

Sure.... make a quiet zone just be sure to not allow people to sue BNSF when they get hit by trains. If you don't like the noise .....MOVE AWAY FROM THE TRACKS!!!!!

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Seriously ..

It takes $31,000 to find out if train whistles are noisy? It's called common sense. These residents chose to live by the train tracks and then they are complaining? Invest in a good pair of ear plugs and a loud 80's boom box to block out the noise. I think these residents (who live by the tracks) need to pay $400,000 + for the sound barriers/medians.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Donald Melendez

@gunowner I would have done it for $5.00, and a six pack of beer.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Grumpy Old Sourpuss

Vice-mayor Gordon took this up as one of her pet projects. It should be very interesting to see where she stands now that she has been waving the "Cut" banner over city spending the last few months.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Good grief! Some crazy answers and crazier suggestions.

First Donna, the entire town of Kingman was always downtown before I-40 helped re-locate it. The point of making Kingman the County seat I think and moving it in from Mineral Park was the train coming through.

I was born and raised about 25 feet from the track and the whistle blew not so much. It never bothered us, just a few blasts to let us know it was coming through. I recall one person being run over by the train between 1943 and 1969 when I moved away. He was drunk and walking on the tracks I believe.

NOW, the whistle blows over and over and over and over and over until it is deafening, makes you crazy, you can't hear anything, you can't talk on the phone and have to scream into it to hold on until the train passes. Yes, I am again back living close to it. When buying my house, I had no clue of the change in the whistle.

To pay this money and come up with all these suggestions is beyond ridiculous. Just stop blowing the damned whistle so many times. There aren't that many people traveling back and forth across the down town tracks. There aren't that many people even living down here anymore and those on the north side usually head for Hilltop, not south of the tracks. I cross the tracks or at least drive on Front Street often and I don't recall ever seeing anyone even waiting for a train to go by to go to the south side.

Give us a few blasts and that's it. Costs nothing. This is just more stupid government spending with no common sense answers. STOP BLOWING THE WHISTLE SO MUCH!! A real simple answer that will work.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Chugga Chugga Wooo Wooooooooo

I like the sound of the train, it has a nostalgic feel and it's also like having a full sized toy train set right in my front yard.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: My My

Well once again Kingman has proved that money is no object!!!! But yet lets talk about where those $$$$'s could have went, I dont know maybe some families that do not have enough food, heat, electric, etc.... or mabye even those families that are losing homes due to lack of jobs in the area, but jeez I think that we should spend money to see how much a train might whistle, woohoo. To those that moved next to the railroad ARE YOU REALLY THAT DUMB THAT YOU DID NOT SEE THE TRACKS???? By the way the railroad was here a long time before you and will be here a LONG time after you are gone. So homeowners by the tracks if you don't like the noise MOVE, oh but you can't because you live in a depressed area and your city is spending countless dollars to make sure that you can sit on your behinds all day and night watching TV and collecting government money (wouldn't want to disturb your precious time), so tell me Kingman should we spend another truck load of money on silly little matters like this or should we help those that are really in need?

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Dave Coop

Is this why we're taking money out of the schools? Just leave the railroad the way it is, especially downtown.

1) Keep downtown unchanged as much as possible. The area is like a big museum that Route 66 fanatics and others from all over the US enjoy to visit. The train crossings and sounds are a big part of that experience.

2) This is a lot of money to be spending on something that's unnecessary. This is only a luxury, and only for a tiny bit of the city. I'm guessing around 90% of Kingman can't even hear the trains. If you don't like the train noises that much, don't do your business or live next to the railroad... that simple. Why do you have to rip it away from everyone else?

3) We took money out of the schools because it was too expensive, and this is the kind of thing we're spending that saved money on? Come on... How are we going to explain that to our kids. "We had to fire your teacher so that small parts of Kingman can be more luxurious." It's Kingman, for crying out loud, not San Francisco. Give the money back to the kids, you selfish bullies.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Philip Martin

As a former resident of Kingman. I grew up downtown off of 4 th street. One place was right up against the tracks. To present residents stop complaining about the small amout of infrequent noise that you endure. Put the money where it needs to go.... into your school systems.

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