After nearly a decade of talk of silencing train horns downtown, a funding plan is in place to create a railway quiet zone that could potentially stretch from Wilshire Boulevard to SE 25.
The quiet zone would include several street closings, the use of medians and reinforced crossing gates. The city's inability to fully fund the project was blamed two years ago for the cancellation of a $38 million apartment development at NW 11 and Broadway. Downtown residents and business owners also have long complained about the horn blasts, which occur throughout the day and overnight.
The Oklahoma City Council voted 7-1 to approve the funding plan at their meeting Tuesday. One abstention came from Meg Salyer, who also owns property in the area.
Ward 4 Councilman Pete White cast the only “no” vote, citing concerns that surrounding property owners and developers were not contributing enough to the cost.
Mickey Clagg, a partner in MidTown Renaissance Group and leader of the private fundraising effort, presented a list of 28 contributors pledging to pay $668,700 toward the $2.9 million project. Contributors include Clagg's development group, the Automobile Alley Association, SandRidge Energy, St. Luke's United Methodist Church, and OU Health Sciences Center.
“This benefits one little strip, and there will be a lot of development along that strip where people will make money,” White said. “I think this is the wrong path to go down. I would have voted against the (Bricktown) canal, if I had been here, because the people along there didn't put any money into it.”
At a glance
The downtown quiet zone, as currently proposed, would close crossings along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks at NW 15, NW 14, NW 12, NW 11 and Park Place. Medians to prevent motorists from driving around crossing gates would be built at NW 13, NW 9, NW 8 and NW 7. Enhanced crossing gates would be added at NW 10. The city also may agree to a request by the railroad to close a crossing at SE 23. A quiet zone already exists between NW 16 and Wilshire Boulevard.