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Lack of consensus on
train horn issue

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

The sounds of train horns in downtown Parkville may not be getting quieter anytime soon.

The Parkville Board of Aldermen discussed the issue of a possible quiet zone in downtown or the use of wayside horns, but could not come to an agreement on the issue at Tuesday's meeting and decided to take up the issue at a future session.

During the special session held before the meeting, Dan Koch, public works director, said that the most popular solution from an open house on the issue was to use wayside horns, with 15 votes from members of the public who attended the open house. The second most popular was the option to do nothing, and leave the area unchanged with 14 votes.

The option of installing wayside horns at Main and East Streets would cost $195,000. Installing quad gates on Main Street and a wayside horn on East Street would cost an estimated $300,000. The option to 'do nothing' has no attached cost.

Another option is to make Main Street one-way south from Mill Street into the park and make East Street one-way north to First Street with an estimated cost of $179,000. The city could also install quad gates at Main Street and make East Street one-way south into the park with a cost of $310,000.

Koch said the recommendation of staff is to wait until Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) builds the second line through Parkville.

Gerry Richardson, mayor, said he did not expect the board to make a formal decision at the meeting, but wanted to reach a consensus.

“I want to get us all on the same page,” said Richardson.

Koch said that even if the city had the downtown area designated as a quite zone, the trains would still need to blow their horns at the private crossing at Ball Power Equipment along 9 Highway and at the city's sewer plant crossing west of Parkville.

Gia McFarlane, alderman, asked if BNSF installed the second track if the signals would have to be moved at the city's expense.

Koch replied that one set would have to be moved.

Marc Sportsman, alderman, asked what the people who voted for the 'no change' solution said to staff during the open house.

“I spoke to a couple, some said they expect to hear it,” said Koch. Koch said other people lived far enough away that the noise was not a nuisance.

“Some said it is an unnecessary expense,” said Richardson. “There were a number of attendees who like the train horns.”

Alderman Deborah Butcher said she thought many people in her ward did not like the train horns and that some remember voting for a bond issue to purchase wayside horns.

“All of the bond money is gone,” said Richardson. “All of the bond proceeds were spent on other projects. The enhancement of Mill Street was spent on erosion control. There are some people out there who remember the bond issue and feel (wayside horns) are paid for.”

Alderman Jeff Bay said he thought the city should not make a decision on one of the issues and wait to negotiate with BNSF when the railroad needs city property to expand the line through Parkville. Bay said that if the city chooses an option then they can only negotiate down from that position, to get the railroad to pay for the changes.

“I don't think what we pick will change them one iota,” said Richardson.

Dave McCoy, alderman, said he was part of the community to either do nothing or to spend money for a quiet zone.

The board halted the special session because they ran out of time before the regular meeting.
"We are not done, but we are going to stop," said Richardson.

In other business Tuesday night, the board approved a contract to construct a new trail along Rush Creek from Main Street to the A-Truss bridge. The trail will cost $11,252.97 and be constructed by the Downing Construction Company.

Another contract was approved to overlay the existing asphalt trail in English Landing Park for a cost of $9,250. The contract is with Seal-O-Matic Paving Company.

Another $5,950 will be spent to install two dugout covers at the Grigsby Field in the park. That contract is with R.D.F. Construction.



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