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a formula for determining which crossings are eligible for quiet zones, as well as methods that make crossings safer to become eligible for quiet zones.Warren Flatau, public affairs specialist for the Federal Railroad Administration, said cities that want a quiet zone would first do a Its how property value is determind possible that no additional investments will be needed, he said, adding that in many instances, crossings that already have the standard double-drop gates and warning lights will qualify.That could bode well for Decatur officials who want a quieter Bank Street,

specifically Country Inn & Suites, which said business dropped 20 percent in recent years as train traffic increased with Decaturs industrial expansion.The city looked at closing the Vine Street crossing as the cheapest alternative, but Northwest residents who use the crossing daily want it to stay open.Railroad officials told the city that to get the quiet zone at Vine, which has double drop gates, it would need to upgrade it to a four-gate crossing.

Some estimates put that at $150,000 to $300,000.Depending on the risk factor, a crossing could be made safer simply by adding lane barriers to prevent vehicles from driving around gates in the down position, Flatau said, estimating the cost at less than $12,000. so they can decide if there is additional risk, whats the best way to address it, Flatau said.Congress did not authorize funds to help cities create quiet zones, he added, so municipalities must still look to share costs with state transportation departments and railroads.

Knight said Hartselle, which has two gated and two ungated crossings downtown, previously was not looking into establishing quiet zones but the new rule makes it worth investigating.They definitely do create noise when they come through town and Im sure there are some businesses downtown for whom it creates a disturbance, he said.Decatur Mayor Lynn Fowler said he soon will meet with a representative from Norfolk Southern to discuss the new rule.

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