The city of Creston took one step closer to becoming a Quiet Zone community earlier this month when the city council voted unanimously to hire Godbersen-Smith Construction Company of Ida Grove to construct concrete medians expected to increase safety at the two Creston railroad crossings in uptown Creston.
Godbersen-Smith has been hired to construct three medians on Elm Street and two on New York Avenue (See maps Figure A) that will theoretically stop cars from going around the stop arms at those railroad crossings.
“These medians must be within 6 feet from the tracks and curbs will be 8-inches tall,” said Kevin Kruse, Creston’s public works director. “Nobody should be going around the stop arms now, but you do see people do it from time to time. These medians — with an 8-inch curb — will definitely stop cars from trying (to go around the arms) and trucks who try will have a might rough ride.”
Godbersen-Smith will also close several entrances/exits to parking lots along Elm Street and New York Avenue with new curb and gutter (Fig. B). The most noteable: The exit out of the restored Creston Depot parking lot on Elm Street will be blocked. (Fig. C)
“We don’t want people making a left turn out of that exit,” Kruse said.
Kruse further explains the reason the city doesn’t want commuters taking a left turn is because one of the medians being constructed by Godbersen-Smith will be a 12-foot wide median down the middle of Elm Street. (Fig. D) The purpose of that median is to create a safety mechanism of just one lane of traffic for commuters northbound on Elm Street.
The one lane for traffic eventually turns into two lanes prior to stopping at the Adams/Elm intersection. (Fig. E).
Perhaps the biggest change for commuters will be Jefferson Street — from New York Avenue to Broad Street — will be one way westbound. Currently, Jefferson Street has two-way traffic.
“Nothing will change for westbound traffic,” Kruse said. “Eastbound traffic will continue to yield at the Russell and Jefferson intersection, but instead of continuing on Jefferson, they will have to take Broad Street.”
The reason Jefferson must be changed to one-way for one block is — according to safety standards — the curb must be at least 60 feet from railroad crossing. That curb protrudes enough that eastbound traffic would be obstructed. (Fig. F)
The total cost to have Godbersen-Smith construct these safety standards is estimated at just short of $200,000. However, the city received a 90/10 grant from the federal government to pay for the construction meaning the city will only be responsible for about $20,000.
The point of the work being completed by Godbersen-Smith is to increase safety at both railroad crossings so the city can apply with Burlington Northern Santa Fe to be a Quiet Zone community.
“The train whistles for uptown businesses are so loud,” Kruse said, “that employees often times just have to stop conversation with the person they are on the phone with or talking to in person. A Quiet Zone would make life a little more pleasant for those people.”
Kruse said after construction by Godbersen-Smith is complete and the city meets a list of BNSF requirements, they will then be able to apply to be a Quiet Zone community. Kruse said Godbersen-Smith will complete their work before winter 2014.
Kruse is hopeful the city of Creston will be a Quiet Zone by “at least” January 2016.