Council reviews quiet zone studyWORTHINGTON — The Worthington City Council will need to consider cost, public opinion and necessity when deciding whether to move forward with a quiet zone at the 12th Street and Flower Lane railroad crossings.
WORTHINGTON — The Worthington City Council will need to consider cost, public opinion and necessity when deciding whether to move forward with a quiet zone at the 12th Street and Flower Lane railroad crossings.
A quiet zone, where train conductors do not sound a horn as they approach street crossings, may be established if the crossings’ risk index without use of a horn is below that of the national average.
The council received a quiet zone feasibility study conducted by TKDA at its meeting Monday. The report presented several options: add flashing lights, gates and Constant Warning Time circuits (a type of train detection that adjusts the start of the warning sequence based on the speed of an approaching train) to both intersections, for an estimated cost of $735,000; close Flower Lane and add CWT circuits to 12th Street for $450,000 — a measure that could include monetary incentives from Union Pacific; install medians at 12th Street and gates at Flower Lane, also for a cost of $735,000; or create a standalone quiet zone for 12th Street only, still adding CWT circuits. The last option would qualify the intersection by a slim and fluid margin; it could lose quiet zone status with an increase in collisions or train traffic.
“Twelfth Street, or both, would qualify for a quiet zone with those minimal improvements in place, but the costs are not minimal,” explained City Engineer Dwayne Haffield, add installation of a median creates additional problems.
“The idea there is to prevent people from skirting the gates. … The issue with that is that cuts off access to businesses like any other median does. “
“I will fight and fight and fight to not see that Flower Lane closed,” said Mayor Alan Oberloh. “I can’t imagine us going down to one place to cross.”
Mike Woll recalled the closing of the 16th Street crossing in 2004, saying some of the benefits proposed by Union Pacific never saw fruition.
“Then was our chance to get them in on a quiet zone; we opted not to do it because of the city share of it that needed to be paid,” explained Oberloh.
Haffield said funding could be difficult to secure because a quiet zone is considered an amenity rather than a necessity, and because creation of a zone essentially removes one safety measure (horns) while adding another. The council will continue discussion at its future meetings, and may host a public meeting on the issue.
The council also met in special session as the city’s Economic Development Authority and approved the final development agreement for Tax Increment Financing District No. 14, New Castle Townhomes.
The developer of the 30-unit housing project, Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, will be reimbursed for TIF-eligible expenditures for 25 years or up to $554,901, whichever comes first.
In other business, the council:
- Authorized the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce to host a downtown Farmers market from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays from June 22 to October at the former Campbell Soup parking lot.
- Approved the updated agreement and memorandum of understanding between the city and Worthington District 518 for the School Resource Officer position.
- Authorized the transfer of $40,000 to the police department general fund for completion of the computer-aided dispatch record management software for their cars; and $47,000 to the fire department general fund to purchase turn-out gear and breathing apparatuses. Both transfers will be fully funded by the departments’ Equipment Revolving Service Funds.
- Learned the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development had awarded Worthington, Round Lake and Wilmont with a Small Cities Development Program in the amount of $254,250 to rehabilitate an additional 15 owner-occupied homes.
- Discussed a budget for the proposed senior/community center, which has not yet been finalized.
- Awarded the architectural services for the proposed senior/community center to Mankato-based I & S Group in an amount not to exceed $28,100.
- Approved improvements to the airport fueling facility; and construction of an aerial crop spray loading pad and chemical storage building, contingent on an agreement between the city and aerial spraying provider Jim Arnt and a successful application for state funds.