YORK – “The quiet zone construction should be done by Thanksgiving.”
It was a statement that warranted repeating as many in York never thought they’d actually hear those words . . . or that they soon won’t hear trains blasting horns through town.
A happy city council received the good news from York City Administrator Joe Frei Thursday night.
“Yes, it should be done by Thanksgiving, 2019,” a smiling Frei repeated.
This project has been pursued for many years.
It was early 2008 when the city commissioned Kirkham Michael to do a feasibility study on what it might require to have an established quiet zone. The engineering company evaluated the four at-grade crossings.
In December, 2008, the York News-Times conducted a survey of readers as to whether a quiet zone should be established. Overwhelmingly, the majority of readers said they were in favor of modifications at the crossings – and paying for those modifications – in order to squelch the train noise.
Several years later, the crossings at Delaware Avenue and North Blackburn Avenue/19th Street were modified. Federal funding helped pay for those projects due to the street modifications that were required.
Modifications still needed to be made at the Division Avenue and East 25th Street crossings – to be paid for with funds from the special ½ percent sales tax that was enacted by voters (also known as LB357 funds).
But all progress halted in 2015, as the city waited to hear from railroad officials regarding their requirements and whatever agreements had to be made. That process lingered on.
In July, 2017, the council agreed to spend an extra $250,000 for the installation of fully-automated arms at the crossing on East 25th Street (the furthermost eastern crossing in the proposed zone), rather than just installing directional horns. By doing so, officials said the liability issues for the city would be minimized. It was also stressed that the modifications would still accommodate the widths of combines and other farming equipment – which was a big concern for council members, seeing how those types of vehicles move through that crossing on a regular basis.
In June of this year, the city council accepted a $489,330.35 bid from MTZ Construction of Lincoln for the last phase of work to complete the quiet zone project.
Now, in September of 2019, the work is underway and Frei said he has been given the latest information – indicating that it should be completed by late November.
And the quiet zone will actually exist.
Mayor Barry Redfern was all smiles as he declared this to be “great and welcome news.”
“It’s been a long time coming,” Mayor Redfern said. “I think now we’re actually nearly almost there.”