After years of work, Quiet Zone established on Union Pacific line in western Mason City

MASON CITY — After seven years of working to establish it, the City of Mason City has finally gotten approval from the Federal Railroad Administration to establish a Quiet Zone along the Union Pacific line. The zone would reduce train horn noise at three UP’s crossings through the city’s west side. 

City Engineer Mark Rahm told the City Council earlier this week that he received the official letter from the FRA a few weeks ago, notifying their approval of the city’s public authority application.  “Everything has been approved by everyone to send a notice of establishment. That went out last week. I actually received a copy of that today, so August 31st is the end of the 21-day waiting period. There was a comment today via email that said it will not affect the completion date, we’re still good for August 31st to call it final, and that’s coming from the FRA. I don’t want to stand here and say no worries…but no worries, we’re there.”

Rahm says even with the Quiet Zone established, it doesn’t always mean that trains won’t blow their horns.  “It’s always up to the discretion of the engineer in the train for safety reasons or different reasons. I’ve also talked to plenty of federal railroad guys that say in the beginning too that it’s, I wouldn’t say a training period for UP engineers because they have Quiet Zones across the country, well across their system, but they say it does take a while for some of these guys to basically for it sink in. In the beginning you may hear some horns, but that will be diminished greatly.”

The three Union Pacific crossings where improvements were made to allow for the Quiet Zone designation are located at 15th Southwest, 6th Southwest and 1st Northwest.