Quiet zone proposed for Ruston

January 13, 2011

by Hayden Haynes, STAFF REPORTER

Trains passing through the city, a common classroom disturbance, may no longer be an issue for flustered students and teachers.

The Ruston Board of Aldermen voted Dec. 6 to begin the process of enacting a quiet zone for trains in the city. The proposed quiet zone would keep trains from blowing their horns while passing through city limits.

Approximately 20 trains pass through the community daily, and this number expected to increase in the near future due to rising economy, according to Kansas City Southern Railway.

Don Kaczvinsky, director of the School of Literature and Language, said he understands and sympathizes with the city when it comes to the aggravation of having so many trains traveling through campus.

“The train horns are extremely loud and often, with uncanny accuracy, blowing right during important points in a lecture. I have to stop, take a sip of tea or water, wait awkwardly until the horn stops blowing, the building stops shaking and the train passes,” Kaczvinksy said. “It takes a few minutes and breaks up the rhythm of the lecture or the class.”

If the trains are to be silenced throughout the city, safety is the issue concerning students and faculty.

“Though the horn is annoying, I worry that having a quiet zone may cause a terrible accident,” Kaczvinsky said. “The horn is meant to be loud and make you aware a train is near. I worry about someone crossing the tracks and getting hit, especially a child, student or a driver, because they didn’t hear the horn. Sometimes, we must accept a minor annoyance or inconvenience for the sake of safety.”

Courtney Meek, a junior political science major, said students listening to iPods and studying their notes can cause a safety risk when they cannot hear the train coming while walking near the tracks and this needs to be addressed.

“Of course the train horns are an interruption in class, but the interruption is fine when it comes to students’ safety,” Meek said. “Students’ safety should always come first when making decisions involving in and around campus.”

Doniele Carlson, a Kansas City Southern spokesperson, said after the City of Ruston files a letter of intent to establish a quiet zone with the KCSR company and the Federal Railroad Administration, KCSR will meet with the diagnostic team, which includes officials from the city, the FRA and the state’s Department of Transportation to determine the public safety requirements to qualify for a quiet zone.

Carlson said the FRA will then make the final decision as to whether or not the area can become a quiet zone.

“Pedestrian traffic, including those wearing music devices, at crossings is one of the elements that the diagnostic team would consider,” Carlson said.

The proposed quiet zone will not take effect immediately.

According to Resolution No. 720 of 2010, “the city has received a preliminary downtown railway traffic Quiet Zone Study prepared by Hunt, Guillot & Associates, LLC dated October 2010. The study recommends, and the city desires to pursue further development of a Master Quiet Zone Analysis and Report that will assist the city in the implementation of a railway quiet zone in accordance with FRA rules and regulations.”

The vote consisted of all five aldermen voting in favor of the resolution.

E-mail comments to jhh015@latech.edu.