Quiet Zone Work Underway

The City of Ottumwa is working to establish a railroad quiet zone through the heart of the community. Quiet zones are sections of rail line where the usual requirements for sounding of locomotive horns are relaxed due to increased safety elements at railroad crossings with the goal of reducing railroad traffic noise.

The intent of Ottumwa’s quiet zone is to increase quality of life!   Downtown Ottumwa is experiencing a re-birth.   Many of our historic buildings are being renovated and re-purposed.   One big area of growth is downtown housing. Building owners are finding a very positive response to creating upper story apartments and lofts. As downtown sees more residential oriented development, community leaders are addressing a number of environmental issues to encourage people to live and work in the city’s center. Reducing the amount of noise from the many trains that travel through town everyday is one component of a greater revitalization effort for Ottumwa.

There are seven at-grade rail crossings along the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railway mainline within the city. (see map below)    By making traffic safety improvements at the railroad crossings at Iowa Avenue, Vine Street, Green Street, Market Street, Kitterman Avenue, McLean Street and Clay Street, Ottumwa can qualify for a quiet zone designation.   These improvements generally consist of the addition of a centerline median on the street to prevent auto drivers from crossing lanes to go around a railroad crossing barrier.

Quiet Zone Map 001

The Legacy Foundation has played a big role in the quiet zone conversation.   They commissioned and funded a feasibility study for implementing a quiet zone, in addition to hosting several community meetings to gather input and concerns from local businesses, residents and government officials. Recognizing the costs for the public infrastructure needed, and the financial challenge that could be for the City, the Legacy Foundation committed up to $400,000 in direct funding for the construction costs needed to qualify for a quiet zone.

Quiet Zone Progress

  • Iowa Avenue crossing – median installation complete
  • McLean Street crossing – median installation complete
  • Market Street crossing – median installation 2015
  • Vine Street crossing – construction to be determined
  • Kitterman Avenue crossing – construction to be determined
  • Clay Street crossing – construction to be determined

Learn More Online!

Federal Railroad Administration web page about quiet zones.

You can read the federal laws that pertain to railroad crossings and the establishment of quiet zones.