Railroad Quiet Zone
In the spring of 2018, Eugene City Council approved funding for the construction of a Railroad Quiet Zone in Downtown Eugene and the Whiteaker neighborhood. Once in place, the quiet zone will silence the train horns through the heart of our city and eliminate about 70 percent of the overall train horn noise in Eugene.
Creating a whistle-free zone is about improving safety. When engineers blow their train horns, they are trying to alert people of an approaching train. The Railroad Quiet Zone (RRQZ) project is meant to keep people walking, biking and driving off the tracks as a train approaches.
Working with local residents, business owners, train safety experts, and other community leaders, city staff came up with improvements at each of the ten crossings inside the proposed quiet zone. Changes will include medians, quad gates, converting Jefferson Street to a one-way street, and several pedestrian gates.
Work is expected to cost about $7.7 million and the quiet zone should be in place in 2021.
In November 2015, city staff convened a stakeholder advisory panel to provide input on the proposed creation of the Railroad Quiet Zone (RRQZ) in Downtown Eugene and the Whiteaker neighborhood. The charge of the RRQZ Citizen Advisory Panel was to review various safety measures required for the City of Eugene to apply for designation as a train-horn quiet zone. The advisory panel also considered options for funding the safety measures.
The following documents were created as city staff worked with the Citizen Advisory Panel and key stakeholders in the process of researching the RRQZ. The reports and related materials were delivered to the Eugene City Council to help inform their decision.
- Memo to City Council on recommended phasing for potential railroad quiet zone (July 16, 2015)
- City Council work session update on railroad quiet zone (March 9, 2015), and minutes
- City Council work session on railroad quiet zone (Oct. 8, 2014), and minutes
- City Council work session on railroad quiet zone (June 26, 2006)
- City Council work session on railroad crossing quiet zones (July 20, 2005)
Final Design Recommendations
Over the course of six meetings, city staff and the Citizen Advisory Panel developed preliminary recommendations for safety measures at 10 crossings:
- Van Buren Street – medians
- Monroe Street – quad gates
- Madison Street – quad gates
- Jefferson Street – one-way southbound between First and Fifth avenues
- Washington Street – quad gates
- Lawrence Street – medians
- Lincoln Street – medians
- Pearl Street – quad gates
- High Street – quad gates
- Hilyard Street – return Eighth Avenue to original alignment and construct roundabout on the EWEB Riverfront property
- Approximately 7,000 lineal feet of fencing to improve safety by keeping pedestrians off the tracks.
Total estimated cost of the preliminary recommended safety measures ranges between $6,835,000 and $7,350,000. Options for funding these costs are outlined in a financial strategies memo to the citizen panel.
In addition to establishing a train horn quiet zone in the Whiteaker and downtown areas, Eugene is working on several related railroad projects: relocating the rail crossing on Eighth Avenue near Hilyard Street; and supporting a new Amtrak siding west of Willamette Street. Each project has its unique requirements and objectives, but each project impinges on the others:
- Relocating the rail crossing on Eighth Avenue is needed to make the EWEB riverfront property more conducive to development. The relocation requires the approval of Union Pacific Railroad and state rail agencies. A condition of the relocation is the closure of at least one other at-grade rail crossing.
- Constructing a new siding for Amtrak trains west of the Eugene Depot would be a state rail project. Staff is confirming the status of planning and funding this major project. When the siding is constructed, the closure of at least one street (currently proposed to be Lawrence Street) probably would be required to accommodate the installation of siding operational equipment. One closure could satisfy both the relocation and the siding closure requirements.
The Eugene Public Works Department formed an 11 member citizen advisory panel to provide input on the creation of a Railroad Quiet Zone (RRQZ) Downtown Eugene and the Whiteaker neighborhood. The group met approximately five times over a period of several month to gather information, discuss options, and agree on recommendations that were forwarded to the Eugene City Council.
The charge of the citizen panel is two-fold:
- Provide a recommendation to Public Works staff for supplemental safety measures each crossing in the rail corridor between Hilyard Street and Van Buren Street.
- Provide a recommendation for funding supplemental safety measures.
RRQZ Advisory Panel Members
- Sam Hahn, Whiteaker Community Council (Brad Foster, alternate)
- Sherrill Necessary, Downtown Neighbors Association (Doug Partridge, alternate)
- Kelsey Weilbrenner, Residents directly affected (east end)
- Jonathan Brandt, Residents generally interested (Larry Deckman, alternate)
- Ron Saylor, Business owners (west end)
- Jeff Althouse, Business owners (west end) (Tom Moseman, alternate)
- Casey Barrett, Business owners (east end)
- Sue Wolling, People who bike, walk or use transit
- Brittany Quick-Warner, Chamber of Commerce
- Bill Randall, Planning Commission
- Eugene Organ, People with disabilities
RRQZ City Staff
Mark Schoening, City Engineer, 541-682-5243
- Rob Inerfeld, Transportation Planning Manager, 541-682-5343
- Kerry Werner, Project Manager, 541-682-5477
- Brian Richardson, Public Affairs Manager, 541-682-5523
- Map of 10 railroad crossings
- Draft Public Engagement Plan
- Overview presentation
- Meeting notes