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Quiet Zone scheduled for 2009

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Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Train whistles along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks will be silenced as of 2009.

"If you're optimistic, you'll say early 2009. If you're realistic, late 2009," Alderman Bruce Imholte said.

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The city sent a notice of intent for the Quiet Zone -- or train whistle free zone -- on April 10, 2006. Then over a year later, a meeting between several entities -- the city of Detroit Lakes, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the Federal Railroad Administration and the Minnesota Department of Transportation -- took place Aug. 20, and noted that an updated notice of intent would be sent out this fall.

The crossings throughout the BNSF rail corridor are being constructed with a four-quad gate system, and must meet safety measures. In showing that safety measures are adequate, "Quiet Zone Risk Index must be less than or equal to risk index with horns," according to a memo sent out on the update.

Then six months prior to the quiet zone beginning, but after the completion of construction of the crossing improvements, the federal crossing inventory will be updated. Grade crossing inventory forms can take up to six months to process.

And finally, the establishment of the Quiet Zone is three weeks after submission, then whistles can be silenced.

A Quiet Zone must be at least half a mile long. Detroit Lakes' will go from Highway 54 to Wine Lake Road, which is across from Airport Road.

"There will be some people who can't sleep in 2010 because there won't be any whistles," Imholte said with a laugh.

Though most train traffic (about 60 a day) through Detroit Lakes is on the east-west BNSF corridor, there will still be a handful of horn-blowing trains on the lesser-used north-south Canadian Pacific tracks.

No whistle-free zone is planned for the CP tracks because it would cost the city about $120,000 per crossing for required upgrades, according to community development director Larry Remmen.

Also at the council meeting:

n Sewer and water will be extended out Richwood Road from KDLM Radio to North Tower Road along the west side of the road to service those properties along the west side.

Total cost of the project is estimated at $733,400, assessable to the property owners. The city will pay for the hydrants and jack and bore portions of the project.

City Engineer Gary Nansen said the city will be "buying down" the costs to make it more affordable to residents. Estimated assessments for 100-foot lots will be $9,685 and 150-foot lots will be $13,603.

Construction is scheduled to take place next year.

Along those same lines, halfway to the west of Richwood Road along North Tower Road, city water will be brought to the proposed new building Detroit Lakes public utilities.

The watermain will be installed on the south side of the road, and will not be assessed to any residents. The total estimated cost of the project is $304,400.

If property owners on the north side of the North Tower Road want to hook up, there will be a fee.

The plan for North Tower Road to be redone and sewer and water to be brought out to that area is tentatively set for 2012.

n The city is entering into an agreement with TV3 to tape a series of videos, which will appear on the city's Web site, to highlight Detroit Lakes and the surrounding area.

Suggested ideas for videos include an introduction from Mayor Larry Buboltz, one on tourism, industry, economic development and amenities such as the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center, St. Mary's Regional Health Center and the educational system.

There will be no cost to the city, but instead, TV3 will find sponsorship through area businesses.

According to a letter from General Manager Jeff Leighton, "Our hope would be to create a minimum of four five-minute videos within one year to capture various seasons."

n At next month's Finance Committee meeting, the group will discuss the joint powers agreement between Detroit Lakes and Becker County pertaining to the airport.

n A public meeting on the overlook wall replacement will be Oct. 30 at 3:30 p.m. in City Hall.

n Fire Prevention Week is this week, and the Detroit Lakes Fire Department is celebrating by hosting an open house today (Wednesday) from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the fire hall.

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