Council advances railroad quiet zone

Engineers to begin downtown design

Jill Schramm/MDN A Canadian Pacific train crosses Central Avenue in downtown Minot. A proposal for improvements to create a quiet zone would eliminate the need for loud train whistles downtown.

The sound of train horns downtown could eventually go away as the Minot City Council took another step Monday toward a potential railroad quiet zone.

The council approved the selection on Monday of SRF Consulting Group to conduct the engineering work, with the scope and fee to be negotiated.

In 2011, a Railroad Quiet Zone Study laid out a framework for establishing quiet zones through Minot. The first quiet zone project occurred in 2014 on the west side of Minot on the BNSF Railway mainline, eliminating 85% of train horns through the majority of Minot, according to information from the City of Minot.

In 2020, the city council decided to update the previous quiet zone study to investigate a Canadian Pacific Railway quiet zone downtown. The council budgeted $150,000 for 2023 to begin the engineering work. Once an engineer’s estimate for construction is available, the cost will be considered, possibly for the 2024 budget.

The downtown quiet zone would include intersections of track with East Central Avenue and possibly a spur, First Street Southeast and Main Street.

Quiet zones consist of various safety improvements that mitigate the risk of train-vehicle collisions and make train horns no longer necessary as warnings to motorists.

The 2011 study looked at 15 crossings and five potential quiet zones, two associated with BNSF and three with CP Rail. Other rail crossings involved BNSF in the 27th Street Southeast area and CP Rail in the Eighth Avenue and Ninth Street Southeast areas and in the Amtrak Depot and Maple Street area.

In other business on Monday, the council approved an amendment to a Joint Powers Agreement with Minot Park District to allow additional buyout properties owned by the city to be used for recreation. The amendment primarily would allow the park district to groom cross-country ski trails. 

On an informational matter, Public Works Director Dan Jonasson provided a history on the location of the city bus stop near Walmart after a member of the public last month cited concern about the distance from the store. Jonasson said the bus stop is located at 37th Avenue Southwest because Walmart has not been receptive to having the stop on its property.

“The city has been vigilant in recognizing that’s a problem and doing the best that we can,” council member Carrie Evans said. “There’s nothing we can force a business to do.”

Jonasson added the city also is working with the marquee company regarding fixing a bus marquee spelling error for the Scandinavian Heritage Center.


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