Columbus Board of Works members have approved a contract with the Indiana Department of Transportation to help with a plan to create a quiet zone for trains traveling through four intersections in the city, which means the installation of gates at crossings.

A quiet zone would mean that Louisville & Indiana or CSX trains traveling on the track through Columbus would not have to blow their warning horns late at night at the State Road 46/State Road 11, Fifth Street, Eighth Street or 11th Street intersections, said Dave Hayward, city executive director of public works/city engineer.

The city’s Transportation Improvement Program said the project is seeking $640,000 in federal funding, with the city providing $160,000 in matching funds.

In February 2017, the city began studying the possibility of creating the quiet zone after learning that CSX will begin hauling freight northbound on the Louisville & Indiana tracks through Columbus later this year at greater frequency and higher speeds.

A study commissioned by the city states the track will have as many as 22 trains a day traveling through the State Road 46/State Road 11 crossing compared to about eight now, and the train’s length will be longer, from 5,100 feet to 7,500 feet in the future.

Trains are required by federal law to sound their horns repeatedly when approaching an intersection with a street or road, Hayward said. The horns are audible throughout downtown Columbus and beyond, particularly at night, city officials said.

The project for the quiet zone would mean that all the crossings would be gated. Right now, only the State Road 46/State Road 11 crossing has gates, Hayward said.

There could be modifications such as medians to prevent motorists from attempting to go around the gates, he said.

Some special considerations may be necessary at the Fifth Street and Eighth Street intersections with the train tracks as the two are very close to Lindsey Street, which limits what can be installed, he said.

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.