KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Imagine a train horn blaring in the middle of the night.
People who live in the Martin City neighborhood of Kansas City appreciate their historical ties to train traffic, but they complain the noise is too loud.
Now there’s a plan to keep things quieter.
The horns can be heard for miles around. Trains are required to blow their horns at every crossing, including those in Martin City.
Debbie Van Noy’s restaurant, Jess and Jim’s Steakhouse sits a few yards from the railroad crossing at 135th and Cherry streets. She and many other business owners would like to hear fewer horns.
“It’s going to be here, and it’s not going away,” she said.
Van Noy and Martin City’s community improvement district plan to ask Union Pacific railroad to declare the area as a quiet zone.
Train conductors would only blow their horns in case of an emergency.
Van Noy said she and other merchants tried this several years ago, but it was too expensive. Railroad companies won’t pay for changes to crossings to limit noise.
She said the basic fees for changing this crossing involved at least a half million dollars — plus an annual fee for maintenance.
“Businesses are going to have to chip in to see what the railroad would charge us,” she said. “We haven’t done that process. We just started it again, so we’re waiting to hear what we need to do.”
Van Noy believes Martin City businesses would develop quickly if that happened.
Rob Stifter’s home sits a few blocks away. He’s fine with making it a quiet zone, but he’s against changes to the train crossing — or paying for them with his tax dollars.
“Just any change,” he said, “if it makes it harder for us to get out on 135th, would be something that would concern me.”
Other Kansas City metro areas that have tried this got their quiet zones, but it took years worth of work to complete the process.