MASON CITY, Iowa – Work on the Quiet Zone along the Union Pacific Railroad line through Mason City began Monday morning.
Due to a last minute change, City Engineer Mark Rahm says that instead of 4th Street SW being closed first at the rail line directly west of Monroe Avenue, the 9th Street NW crossing closed first. The closing of 4th Street SW will instead happen two or three days later. Equipment called Supplemental Safety Measures, such a lane delineators, offset directional sidewalk crossings and additional signage, will also been installed at the rail crossings for 15th Street SW, 6th Street SW and 1st Street NW.
Greg Shirk, the owner of Acute Care Chiropractic, which is located next to the UP line on 1st Street NW, hopes these efforts will improve traffic, though he is not in favor of the delineators because it would prevent drivers from turning around if waiting on a longer train to pass through.
"There's many times throughout the day that the train blocks the crossing for a half hour to 45 minutes or more. There's also a daycare next door where the kids go to the park in the summertime, and they sometimes have to wait on the hot concrete because they can't get around them," Shirk says.
Rahm says that in addition to reduce the need for trains to sound their horns in these areas, the project was created in order to improve quality of life for nearby residents.
"These folks are living right along the rails, and they're just real tired of hearing the horns blow," Rahm says.
The 4th and 9th street closures will be permanent. The others are expected to last anywhere between 3 to 5 days. This project is expected to be completed by April 22.
According to Rahm, the project will cost about $100,000, but Union Pacific will reimburse up to $85,000.
Mason City will be 1 out of 11 communities in Iowa and over 600 nationwide participating in the Quiet Zone project.