Residents of the western North Dakota town of Beach are looking forward to hearing fewer train horns next spring, when a city railroad "quiet zone" is to take effect.
Passing trains do not have to blast their air horns in city quiet zones, unless there is an emergency.
Quiet zones require safety improvements to city railroad crossings and approval from the Federal Railroad Administration and the railroad itself. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway operates on the tracks through Beach, a community of about 1,000 people that is close to the Montana border in southwestern North Dakota.
A number of North Dakota cities have quiet zones, including Grand Forks and Fargo.
Terry Boehm, Beach's city engineer, said the city recently got approval for its quiet zone after working on the project for almost two years. Crossing improvements are expected to be completed by May 31.
"It is quite a lengthy process," he told The Dickinson Press (http://bit.ly/OLDfO2).
Kim Nunberg, the Beach city auditor, said city residents have long wanted a quiet zone. Requests for one increased when the tourist town of Medora, which is about 25 miles east of Beach, established one more than two years ago.
Medora's mayor, Doug Ellison, said the city's quiet zone was "well worth the time and effort."
There was some concern among residents that a quiet zone would detract from the city's Old West ambiance, but Ellison said he would tell those skeptics that the days of the old train whistle were long gone.
"They're not whistles. They're air horns," Ellison said. "I like steam whistles too, but these are not steam whistles."