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Permanent Street Closings to Begin Monday, April 5.
There are currently 11 at-grade railroad crossings in downtown Olathe, and federal regulations require all trains to sound their horns as they approach and enter each intersection. As it stands, a train horn can be heard blowing in downtown for about five hours every day.
A “quiet zone” project is currently underway in Olathe. The project will eliminate the horn sounding requirement on a main rail line in the city’s downtown by making safety improvements at the all downtown crossings. Those include constructing new gates, signals and median barriers at eight intersections, and closing the three least traveled crossings at Cedar Street, Poplar Street and Prairie Street. Once the quiet zone is in place, the Federal Railroad Administration will issue a quiet zone order, and trains will no longer be required to sound their horns. However, trains will always sound horns if engineers observe a potential hazard on the tracks.
Currently, the BNSF Railroad is completing modifications to crossings and signals. On Monday, April 5th, the railroad will begin closing three crossings, starting with Cedar Street followed by Poplar Street then Prairie Street. When the crossings are closed, the City will temporarily place barriers and signage to ensure traffic does not attempt to cross the tracks at those locations. In June, each of the streets will be reconstructed to include cul-de-sacs.
Once the BNSF completes its portion of the project, the City will begin modifications to the remaining streets including widening and constructing medians to ensure vehicles cannot drive around lowered crossing arms. In addition, the City will be installing fencing to prevent pedestrian crossings at locations apart for the signalized intersections.
The quiet zone project is expected to be completed in the Fall.