Ohio’s First “Quiet Zone”
Downtown Springfield Hears Less Noise Along the Tracks
(Columbus) – At 12:01 a-m on Monday, July 20th, the sound of train horns along the Norfolk Southern tracks through Springfield, Ohio became a thing of the past. That’s when Ohio’s first “quiet zone” went “live”.
The trains will still roll through as they always have, but train crews will no longer have to sound their air horns at grade crossings along a several-block corridor through the downtown. Since public safety is still foremost, train horns can still be sounded in an emergency.
Even before the ribbon-cutting, nearby business operators are enthusiastic about the change.
“We are excited to have the quiet zone in full effect and be able to draw more guests to experience the charm of downtown Springfield. We’ve already begun to receive positive feedback from the change – we couldn’t be happier! Our guests can now sleep soundly - there will be many restful nights to come”, says Becky Krieger, General Manager of the
Courtyard by Marriott. The hotel sits directly by the rail corridor.
Local, state and railroad officials will officially dedicate the “quiet zone” in ceremonies scheduled for 10:00 a-m on Friday, July 24th at the Limestone Avenue crossing in downtown Springfield.
The project roots go back to 2004, when a task force of City of Springfield officials and community leaders began discussing the issue of grade crossing safety through Downtown Springfield, which had numerous crossings over a relatively short stretch of railroad corridor. Increasing railroads traffic and projections for more added to the urgency of the effort to increase safety but also to improve the quality of life by reducing noise pollution as trains rolled through the city.
The quiet zone was achieved by working with a combination of changes to the rail corridor: selected closings of redundant grade crossings and either four-quad light & gates or wayside horns at the remaining crossings. Four quad gates allow a crossing to be completely closed as a train approaches and passes, leaving motor vehicles unable to go around the gates. Wayside horns are smaller, directional horns on the crossing gates that warn drivers and pedestrians of approaching trains, but have a volume level less than that of a train horn.
“We know of several more Ohio communities interested in establishing safer and quieter rail corridors”, says ORDC Executive Director Matt Dietrich. “Having a major, operating quiet zone, developed in partnership with the railroad, like this one in Springfield gives the rest of the state a good model to emulate.”
(The Ohio Rail Development Commission is an independent agency operating within the Ohio Department of Transportation. ORDC is responsible for economic development through the improvement and expansion of passenger and freight rail services and railroad grade crossing safety. For more information about what ORDC does for Ohio, visit our website at