If you've long been annoyed by the sound of train horns in downtown Cedar Rapids, I have some good news for you. The City of Cedar Rapids is starting a project Wednesday, May 30 that could eventually make things much quieter downtown.

A release from the city states that the Union Pacific Railroad is set to begin the installation of the "2nd Avenue railroad safety gates and crossing arms." This work will be on the 4th Street tracks downtown. 2nd Avenue will remain open during the process, though there may be some brief closures during the construction process. It will likely take 'til the end of June or early July to complete the work.

Bob James

Once that project is done, Union Pacific will tackle the safety gates and crossing arms on 4th Avenue, as well as 5th Avenue. Utility work and pavement work will follow on those avenues (4th and 5th). Once it's all complete, 4th and 5th Avenue will open to two-way traffic between 3rd St and 5th St. SE.

Those gates and crossing arms being installed is definitely good news to those that don't like hearing train horns. Emily Breen, the Communications Coordinator for the City Manager's Office, tells me,

The safety crossing arms are required before we can apply for a quiet zone designation. This year, the railroad will complete the arms on 2nd, 4th, and 5th Avenues; next year they will do 3rd Avenue. We are also still working on a timeline for 1st Avenue. Once this is complete, there is a process for applying for a quiet zone designation, which we would do. If received, this would not eliminate all horn activity, but it will decrease it.

I understand that trains will still need to sound their horns on occasion but I'm looking forward to quieter days ahead. Emily says we're still a few years away from this being a reality.