Upgrading some downtown Tulsa railroad crossings

Monday, August 23rd 2004, 10:31 am
By: News On 6

Within a year, trains that cross downtown might blow through without blowing a whistle. The city wants to establish a "quiet zone" downtown - and now it has the money to do it.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says downtown is something of a railroad crossroads, and has been for 100 years. 18 to 20 trains a day run pass by and they blow a whistle at every intersection. That will change once new fool-proof gates go in at all five railroad crossings downtown.

The new gates will go up on Greenwood, Elgin, Cheyenne, Elwood and Denver, where they cross the Burlington Northern Santa Fe track.

The new gates are longer than the old ones and come down on both sides. They make it impossible for traffic to cross. That's why once they're installed - the trains can stop blowing whistles.

No one could live closer to the tracks right now than Taniel Adams. She lives just outside downtown and says the whistle isn't the worst of it. "It's more the noise of the train, don't hear the whistle much." But Steve Smith says after a lifetime living by the tracks, he doesn't even notice.

The improvements will cost $2.25-million, with the bulk of it from federal taxes. The city believes the payoff could be more people living and working downtown - something they might be less inclined to do if they can't hear over the trains.

City taxpayers are paying part of the costs, $750,000. The money comes out the third penny sales tax approved by voters. It is not part of the Vision 2025 plan.