A discussion on potential new “quiet zones” free from train whistles is on track to go before the Spokane Valley City Council on Dec. 7.
While no public testimony will be taken at that time, the report by Public Works Director Neil Kersten will give the council an opportunity to address concerns raised last month when a group of residents living in the Orchard Park area north of Trent near Felts Field. The topic, however, can be addressed at any time during the council’s two open “public comment” periods on nonaction items.
“It’s something we certainly want to look at,” Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey said Monday.
On Oct. 26, about a half-dozen told the council that trains have been blocking crossings at Park and Vista on the Union Pacific tracks and blowing horns longer than necessary in the middle of the night.
The group said they have gathered signatures to help spur the possibility of creating “quiet zones” in the area where the horns aren’t blown as they go through the crossings.
Doing so, however, isn’t cheap. Expensive concrete barriers and extra crossing had to be installed at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe crossing just south of Trent at University after motel owner Tony Lazanis championed a quiet zone at that location for years. It could cost the city over $1 million to make the improvements if grant money to do the work isn’t found.
The train horns are blown in a specific pattern – including up to 20 seconds continuously through the crossing – to warn drivers off the tracks. So any improvements made must completely disallow cars from crossing.
The Dec. 7 council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.
The council, meanwhile, will not meet for the next two weeks. The Nov. 23 meeting has been cancelled due to the Thanksgiving holiday. On Nov. 30, there will be no meeting because council members will be attending a National League of Cities conference in Colorado.