Night time railroad quiet zone coming soon to Anoka

Anoka is taking a step toward partially becoming a whistle-free zone for the trains that pass through the city.

While staff have been pursuing a whistle free zone for quite a while, a night time quiet zone is expected to go into effect soon, according to Public Services Director Greg Lee.

“At this point it is anticipated that will be established in mid to late December,” said Lee.

The night time quiet zone will run from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. for the crossings at Ferry Street and Fourth Avenue.

Engineers will no longer be required to whistle before entering these intersections. Although the whistle will still be sounded at the crossing located on ATK property and the Northstar trains will also have two short whistles when they depart from the Anoka station.

“It won’t be completely silent, but it will be a lot quieter than it is today,” said Lee.

The city is also trying to move ahead on getting that quiet zone established 24 hours a day.

“The reason for (the delay) is MnDOT is currently working on several issues associated with the rail crossing on Ferry Street,” Lee said.

The northbound traffic is backing up and interfering with the intersection at Fourth Avenue, he said.

“There is also the issue of the gates at Fourth Avenue influencing the gates at Ferry Street and they are working with BNSF to fix that,” said Lee.

The safety arms at the Ferry Street crossing are coming down and staying down, when they don’t need to.

“Once they work out those issues we can apply for a full-time quiet zone and we anticipate that in the spring of 2013,” said Lee.

But there will be some times at those intersections the trains will still whistle.

Any time an engineer sees an unsafe situation the engineer can blow the horn, said Lee.

Councilmember Carl Anderson questioned if there were ever any discussions about improving safety at the Ferry Street railroad crossing.

“I’ve never seen a better candidate for a grade separation anywhere,” said Anderson. “I just don’t understand why we don’t work harder to getting a grade separation between Ferry Street traffic and BNSF.”

Lee said at this time, MnDOT does not have the funding available to purse a grade separation, which would ultimately be an underpass below the railroad tracks.

Planning Director Carolyn Braun said she has had informal discussions with MnDOT staff about this issue and the next step will be formally getting this potential project in the queue for consideration.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]

  • Matt Look

    Recently door knocking, I have answered questions concerning the train whistle. The Anoka County Regional rail authority is promoting a “sooner, rather than later” recommendation to implement this whistle free location. Mr. Lee has done a great job of keeping on top of the ball and seeing this through. Most locomotives have 5 mile horns that certainly are not suitable to a developed community like Anoka. I appreciate the compromise in the meanwhile, to implement an evening/night hour whistle free, to relieve people of unnecessary noise pollution.

  • chris

    most people in Anoka moved here knowing the train tracks were there. The signals can and have malfuncioned. Rember those kids in 03? The crossing on Ferry is incredibley busy with a history of serious accidents/deaths. It malfunctions too much and should not be made a quiet zone.

    I live right by the fair grounds

    • Jim

      Sorry Chris – I disagree – Making the crossing a quiet zone actually makes the crossing safer. To qualify for a quiet zone, a crossing must first have concrete medians poured down the middle of the street extending out from the tracks, which would have prevented those kids from being able to drive up into the gates in the first place. This should be done on all busy crossings throughout the US – ASAP no excuses. What is the cost of a few feet of concrete curb compared to the horrific loss of lives?

  • Dave Shannon

    One of “those kids” mentioned in the responses above, was mine. IMHO, eliminating the whistle is a mistake! Jim, the signals failed in our accident and the concrete medians you mention above would have made no difference at all. The kids did not drive around the crossing arm.

    The only safe option is the grade separation that was referred to in the article.