Rock Island Considers Quieting Trains Downtown - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Rock Island Considers Quieting Trains Downtown

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     Rock Island is looking into a downtown "quiet zone" hoping to ease disruption for area businesses, events and residents. City leaders are now considering a study of the area from Centennial Bridge to Arsenal Bridge along 1st Avenue. 

     There are three traffic crossings  at 17th, 18th and 24th streets as well as a pedestrian crossing at 20th where upgrades to railroad signals would likely need to be made. But there is one major obstacle standing in the way of that: state approval.

     As a downtown resident for more than 10 years and a new business owner, Kyle Born say he's heard enough of the nearby train whistles. "There's a lot more people moving down here so it's going to be a great community. The district is kind of seeing a revival right now so the quieter the better," said Born.

     Others who frequent Schwiebert Park and bring their children to play say they'll take the noise. "I think they should have their horns, I mean safety first that's all I got to say. This is a playground," said Chris Rottman, a parent.

     "I'm used to hearing the sound when I'm going up to an intersection but I think the lights and having the bars help a lot," said Victoria Rosales who lives in Rock Island.

     Six to eight trains go through that area on an average day but there can be up to a dozen during busy times of year. The city has gotten complaints about the horns from businesses and residents. Implementing a quiet zone as a solution would be for all hours of the day. But, in order to install crossing gates and other safety equipment that might be needed, narrowing 1st Avenue may have to happen.

     "One lane of travel in each direction with a turn lane in the center versus two lanes of travel with a turn lane in the center," said Jeff Eder, Assistant City Manager for Rock Island.

      Because that road is also Illinois 92, the state will have to okay those changes first. City leaders will decide whether to hire Missman Engineering for more than $69,000 for the study and to come up with a layout that could work.

     "From a safety standpoint we won't compromise safety," added Eder,  "It's a 24/7 downtown with the residents and businesses and we're trying to make a better environment for everybody."

     Changing 1st Avenue to one lane in each direction plus a turn lane could allow for additional downtown parking in that area as well as fewer lanes for pedestrians to cross when going to and from the river. A contract with the engineering firm will be up for a vote on Monday, April 14th. If approved, the first phase of the study could take 6-9 months and then back to council to decide where to go from there.


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