Train quiet zone excites neighbors in Claremore

Posted at 8:37 PM, Mar 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-23 21:38:05-04

CLAREMORE, Okla. -- Trains cause a lot of delays and complaints about noise in Claremore, and city leaders are now working on ways to deal with both. 

The assistant city manager shared an update at Monday's city council meeting about a plan to establish a "quiet zone" through town. 

City Manager Jim Thomas said the quiet zone would mean the trains could pass through Claremore without blowing their horns to warn drivers. 

"What we're trying to do," Thomas said, "is to allow the trains to go through the community safely that they're not having to worry that cars are going to come around the arm barriers." 

Thomas said city leaders began looking at the idea more than a decade ago, but the infrastructure improvements needed to make it possible would have cost more than $5 million. 

When he hired a new assistant city manager in November last year, Thomas said he asked him to look into this issue further. They determined that they could work with the two major railroad companies and the U.S. Railroad Administration to get the quiet zone approved at a reduced cost. 

City leaders now plan to spend about $500,000 to add what they call "channelization" to the intersections at seven railroad crossings through Claremore. The channelizations will be eight-inch curbs and plastic posts that Thomas said "will allow cars to stay in their lane and won't allow them to go around if the arms are down." 

He says that will hopefully be enough to convince federal agencies and the railroad companies to agree to the quiet zone. 

City leaders said a quiet zone would likely cut down train noise by 80 to 90 percent. Any reductions would sound great to neighbors, like Dylon Moss and Norma Novotny. 

"It would make it a lot nicer because I hate trains," said Moss, who lives a couple of blocks away from train tracks. "I hate the noise of them." 

"We would be so for that because it would just make a world of difference," said Norma Novotny, who works at a salon next to the train tracks. "People would be more comfortable. We would be more comfortable. I think it would just be a lighter, happier atmosphere." 

City leaders said they expect to have the quiet zone in place by December 2016.