Trains will no longer sound their horns with our new Quiet Zone
After more than 10 years of trying, we finally received approval this week for a Quiet Zone in Fairfield. That means once the approved supplemental safety measures are completed next summer, the trains will no longer sound their horns as they pass through the City.
A main rail line goes through Fairfield, often with over 60 trains passing per day. At present, the railroads are required to sound three short horn blasts, three long, and then three short again per train at each of the city’s eight at-grade crossings. Many newcomers to the community, including students, often complain about the horn sounds, especially at night. When the weather warms up and windows are left open at night, the horns keep many of us awake. I particularly am annoyed by the loud blasts when I am at an event on the Square, four blocks from the tracks.
In order to get the horns to stop we need to create supplemental safety devices on most crossings. At present by sounding the train horns the crossings have a combined Risk Index of 24,399. To improve safety we will install raised medians leading up to the crossings for 50 to 100 feet in each direction. This will keep vehicles from crossing the center median into the opposite lane of traffic when the crossing gates are down. By installing these medians we will lower our Risk Index to 12,052, which means our crossings will be twice as safe.
So we have some reason to celebrate: No more horns starting next year, providing the financial support that was promised comes through. Enjoy the silence!
A large office building and former store has been donated to the City. One idea for use of the building is to do a swap with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, which owns the tracks that come through the City. The historic Fairfield train station (PHOTO) has been used for the past 40 years for storage and as a workshop for local rail workers. The station adjoins Howard Park, located two blocks from the City Square and currently the site of the local farmer’s market. There have been several suggestions for the new uses for the building, including an art museum and a restaurant. The best idea I heard is t o make it a train station again. Fairfield is on the main Amtrak line that runs from Chicago to San Francisco and the Council intends to start negotiations with Amtrak to get them to stop here again. So the station may go back to its original use.
This building has been donated to the City of Fairfield and may be swapped for the train station (below).
Fairfield's train station
Check out this radio spot at Iowaenvironmentalfocus_fairfield_1m17s_Dec6-10 created by the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research for its weekly series, the Iowa Environmental http://cgrer.uiowa.edu/. It showcases what they called “Fairfield’s efforts to make Iowa a greener place to live and work.” In their email to the Mayor and City council they told us “Fairfield was chosen for our sub-series on Iowa’s sustainable cities because of the local hard work going into its green initiative. We wanted to make sure you knew that the city’s efforts in sustainability are gaining recognition. Keep up the good work and listen for this clip on your local radio station.” For more information, visit www.IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org
An 8-page color brochure promoting sustainable practices was distributed to Fairfield residents this fall as an insert to our daily newspaper and at distribution points throughout the city. The “Go-Green Guide” includes tips on energy and water saving, food, recycling, land, transportation and construction. It was created as part of grant from the Iowa Power Fund and intended to be a model to be copied by other Iowa cities. M.U.M. Sustainable Living and business students contributed to the brochure and received an acknowledgement on the back cover. For more about green initiatives in Fairfield, see http://www.fairfieldgogreen.com/.
I will be blogging about things of interest to me, including what is happening in the City of Fairfield as it relates to Maharishi University. Some other things on my mind:
- Quieting the train horns
- Offering business seminars on Principles of Success and the Transcendental Meditation technique
- Sustainable Community development. I am teaching a course by that title in May, so I will be thinking about it a lot.
- M.U.M. collaborations with institutions abroad.
- Forest Academies
- Employee health and wellness (another course I will be teaching in March.)
- The seven habits of highly successful people and other work by Stephen Covey