Downtown Quiet Zone

Project Number: 30506C

Project Location/Limits:
BNSF West Track Quiet Zone.

Project Information:
A quiet zone is a designated section of railroad including one or more consecutive public grade crossings in which train engineers are prohibited from sounding the train horns under normal operating circumstances.  The intent of the quiet zone is to decrease the amount of train horn noise as trains pass through this designated quiet zone.

According to the BNSF, in 2010 an average of 88 trains traveled through Olathe on the west railroad tracks daily.  With the 11 at-grade crossings in the downtown area from Woodland Road to Dennis Avenue, prior to the quiet zone trains passing through this area generate approximately 5 hours of horn noise each day.

The Downtown Quiet Zone Project began in 2008 at a cost of nearly $6 million.  The project involved safety modifications at 11 at-grade crossings from Woodland Road to Dennis Avenue.  These safety improvements will allow this section of the railroad to qualify as a quiet zone, thereby prohibiting train engineers from sounding the train horn under normal operating circumstances as the trains pass through this zone.

On February 9, 2011, the City of Olathe received notification from the Federal Railroad Administration that the quiet zone improvements have been accepted.  On February 11, 2011, the City submitted the Notice of Establishment to the railroads and other agencies to formally establish the quiet zone.  The City followed up on March 4, 2011, with additional documentation to the BNSF Railroad to establish the quiet zone.

The BNSF Railroad enacted the quiet zone at 12:01am on Friday, March 25, 2011. With the Quiet Zone, trains are prohibited from sounding their horns under normal operating circumstances.

Special Circumstances Requiring Train Horns to Sound
There are exceptions to the quiet zone regulations which can cause the train engineers to sound the train horns in this quiet zone.  For safety reasons, train engineers are required to sound the train horn when workers are within 25 feet of the railroad tracks or when other potentially hazardous situations are observed including the presence of persons, vehicles, or animals.

Total Project Cost: $5,600,000

Project Contact: 913-971-9047 (design and construction of the quiet zone project)