Study shows ways to turn downtown Hannibal into train quiet zone

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The results are back on a study to make downtown Hannibal a quiet zone for passing freight trains, it’s something residents said is much-needed.

The tracks still have water around them in downtown Hannibal, meaning people have had a break from the train noise. With trains starting to resume, they hope this new report will help address the noise issue.

“When I’m standing there cooking, and I’ve got all this machinery on making noise, and I’m on the phone with the back door open and the train is so loud I can’t hear the person on the phone and I’m inside,” said Owner of the Ole Planters Restaurant Joe Noonan.

Noonan said a downtown quiet zone is something he’s wanted for a long time– and it’s something that’s effected his customers too.

“I’ve heard tourists go ‘my gosh those trains are so loud why won’t they do something about that?’, well it’s because in their towns they have,” said Noonan.

Hannibal city leaders said the new report outlines ways that concerns from people downtown can be addressed.

“One is a wayside horn which basically is audible in a 500 foot radius, and that’s the expensive option, the less expensive option is actually a traffic camera,” said 2nd ward city councilman Michael Dobson.

The part of the report outlining the two options

Dobson said the plan involves increasing the length of median to make it so people can’t drive around the crossing, as well as implementing one of those two options. The wayside horn would cost around $550,000, while the cameras would cost around $240,000.

“If you look at the people that are involved that would benefit from that and you take it over a 10 year average, it’s about $23,000 a year, which at the time the city manager and I thought was doable,” said Dobson.

Noonan, who’s working on putting in apartments above his restaurant, and even plans to live in one, says while the cameras aren’t a perfect solution, if it’s economical for the city it’s something he wants to see.

“If you’re going to invest $100,000 dollars in a couple of an apartments, it makes you think, am I going to be able to keep tenants?,” said Noonan.

Dobson said the city council will have to wait until after riverfront construction is complete before more planning can be done. The next step is figuring out how much traffic uses these crossings.

Last November, the Hannibal city council approved $7,000 dollars for this study to be done. There are four crossings where trains blow their horns near the docking area of the mark twain riverboat alone, not including others in the area.

Frank Healy

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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