Long Time Coming, But Plan Finally Moving Forward for Downtown " - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Long Time Coming, But Plan Finally Moving Forward for Downtown "Quiet Zone" Rail

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It's been a long time coming, but train whistles in downtown Bismarck will soon be a thing of the past.  The City takes the next step.

"Expense is high, but safety is always the concern," says Dale Zimmerman, Owner of Peacock Alley.  The City says a quieter, safer downtown Bismarck is inching closer to becoming a reality -- but not without cost.

The plan calls for $3.6 million in railroad crossing projects at Third, Fifth and 12th Streets, which include safety features such as special gates, vehicle detection systems and pedestrian mazes.  Some say the cost is just too high.

"Bismarck is nothing but taxes, taxes, taxes, and I'm kind of tired of paying taxes in Bismarck," says Charlie Hagen, Bismarck.

Others, like Zimmerman, say a more peaceful downtown will positively impact hotels, hospitals, shops, restaurants, and importantly -- "the downtown apartments -- the lack of them."  In fact, Bismarck Commissioner, Parrell Grossman, shares some projects looking at downtown "were reluctant to move ahead as long as those trains continued to have to blow those whistles."

But quiet zone rail does not mean you'll never hear train whistles.  BNSF Railway says, "Under the train horn rule, the horn will still be sounded in the event of an emergency, or as a warning if someone is near the tracks, including roadway workers and equipment.  BNSF has worked with other communities on quiet zones and will work with Bismarck through the process."

So about those train whistles -- "I mean it is irritating, but it's not three million dollars irritating," says Hagen.

As for the impact on economic development in downtown Bismarck, downtown business owner Zimmerman says, "people thinks it fast now, it's going to get way faster."  They say quiet zone rail will lead the way.

BNSF Railroad says what's been called "quiet rail" is actually a misnomer.  What's actually coming to downtown Bismarck is "quiet zone."  City officials say they do not anticipate any roadblocks coming from the Federal Railway Administration or BNSF Railway in approving Bismarck's plan for quiet zone rail, and expect it to be in place by 2015.


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