Residents of the east side of Clintonville have become used to the distinctive four-part blast of locomotive horns -- but neighborhood leaders still are fighting for a more serene environment.
Clintonville Area Commission members June 1 unanimously approved a resolution asking city officials to begin creating a "quiet zone" at the neighborhood's three railroad crossings east of Indianola Avenue.
The measure was proposed by District 1 representative David Vottero. It was the next logical step, he said, based on input he received from residents of his district and elsewhere in Clintonville during a public meeting he convened last summer.
"The train noise is a reality ... but it's a manageable nuisance," Vottero said. "We don't have to live with that."
Engineers for Norfolk Southern and CSX currently must sound their trains' horns as they approach the three crossings at Weber Road, Old Cooke Road and East Lincoln Avenue.
The resolution, which after some discussion and wrangling over wording was approved by a vote of 8-0, concludes:
"The commission asks that the city of Columbus work with the Ohio Rail Development Commission to determine the most appropriate path to creating a quiet zone along the Clintonville rail corridor. The commission also asks the city of Columbus to provide a notice of intent to establish a quiet zone to the (Federal Railway Administration), the Ohio Rail Development Commission and the railroads to formally begin the process."
According to the railway administration, engineers are directed not to sound their trains' horns when approaching quiet zones.
Municipalities that want to establish quiet zones are required to "mitigate the increased risk caused by the absence of a horn."
Christopher Allwein, the CAC's District 8 representative, questioned the wisdom of going on record to demand establishment of the zones, and instead suggested the commission request a study.
"It would not be our decision to make," Vottero responded.
At each step in the process of establishing quiet zones, he added, any possibility of a reduction in safety at the crossings would result in an abrupt halt.
District 4 representative Judy Minister, a real-estate agent, was hesitant about including a line in the resolution that stated, "Property values are negatively impacted by the presence of train horn noise." That's simply not the case, she said, citing sales figures for homes at various distances from the tracks.
"Do I really hear the noise anymore? Not really," Minister said.
Vottero readily agreed to remove the line.
"This has gone on for years," said departing CAC member D Searcy of District 9. "This has been considered and brought before the commission as long as I've been here, which is 12 (years)."
Also at the CAC's June 1 meeting, former District 1 commission representative Mike McLaughlin appeared briefly to announce the formation of a Friends of the Medians group. The private entity will serve as the sponsor for two proposed medians: one on Indianola Avenue between Milford and Melrose avenues and the other on North High Street between Dunedin Road and Orchard Lane.
McLaughlin said he put out an appeal on social media for others to join Friends of the Medians and got 12 volunteers within six or seven hours.
"We're all just in our holding pattern waiting for instructions," he said.
CAC Chairwoman Libby Wetherholt had raised the possibility of the commission sponsoring the medians, which are to be built with money from the Urban Infrastructure Recovery Fund program, but members balked at the obligation to maintain plantings.
With the sponsorship now in place, Wetherholt said city officials will be able to put out bids for construction of not only the medians but also crosswalks to be associated with them.