PARKVILLE, Mo. — The City of Parkville is moving forward with a $16,000 study to figure out if its possible to make two public rail crossings in the heart of downtown into “quiet zones,” and what needs to happen to make that transition.

“We have an opportunity to take care of something that’s been an issue for a long time,” said Parkville Mayor Dean Katerndahl.

Katerndahl says the train horns have been disrupting downtown businesses for decades, but newly-available funding from the Infrastructure Bill passed in 2021 is opening up more funding sources for projects like Parkville’s that try to improve pieces of United States infrastructure and the communities around them.

“Approximately 45 trains a day run this route so what that means is about twice an hour, a train will come through, blow its horns and about five minutes of every hour is disrupted from train horn noise for all these businesses and residents,” said Parkville Community Development Director Stephen Lachky.

Current map

The study is slated to start in November alongside the rail company, BNSF, to figure out what has to change so that trains will no longer be required to blow their horns as they approach the two public crossings in Parkville.

The $16,000 only covers the study itself. The cost of the likely upgrades could be between $2-3 million and will be covered by federal funding, state funding, and local fundraising.

Safety regulations demand that trains blow their horns unless crossings are designated to be “Quiet Zones,” with upgraded and additional infrastructure.

Estimated map

Based on a preliminary study from 2013, Lachky and Katerndahl say the likely outcome is a stationary horn that would drastically cut down on how much of the city hears and is disrupted by the warning. It would also require additional crossing gates, and potentially new signage and traffic patterns.

The return on investment would be seen in the events that would be able to return to the downtown area that have left because of the consistent disruptions and the new events Lachky hopes to attract.

“Not having the constant disruptions from noise will allow for more unique kinds of events, carnivals, more unique types of gatherings and events not just downtown but in the farmers market space,” Lachky said.

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