Tipp City Council receives recommendations on quiet zones for railroad crossings

TIPP CITY — The Tipp City Council on Monday heard recommendations on what would be needed in order to implement quiet zones at various railroad crossings in the city.

The city funded the initial inspections, which cost up to $6,000 and were paid to Benesch Engineering, to aid the Tipp City Quiet Zone Committee in determining what types of upgrades would be needed in order to qualify for a quiet zone.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, “In a quiet zone, railroads have been directed to cease the routine sounding their horns when approaching public highway-rail grade crossings.” Trains may still use their horns in emergency situations or to comply with other federal regulations. It is also the responsibility of localities wishing to establish Quiet Zones “to mitigate the increased risk caused by the absence of a horn.”

“There are over 60 quiet zones in the state of Ohio,” said James Trzeciak, chairman of Tipp City Quiet Zone Committee. He noted there at 12 Quiet Zone crossings in Springfield.

Trzeciak said the committee promoted an online survey about the implementation of quiet zones in the city, to which almost 400 Tipp City residents responded. He said 75 percent of residents who responded to the survey were in favor implementing the quiet zones.

Trzeciak provided the following recommendations for upgrades at the following railroad crossings:

• At Park Street, recommended changes included modifying sidewalk, upgrading the warning system, rebuilding the crossing, and adding a concrete median.

• At Plum Street, the city should consider an additional bell on the opposite quadrant for pedestrians.

• At Main Street, the city would have to put a four-quadrant gate, which includes adding two additional gates to prevent vehicles from driving around the gates when they are down.

• At Dow Street, the city would either have to install another four-quadrant gate or make the street a one-way.

• At Broadway Street, the city would have to install a four-quadrant gate and adjust the sidewalks.

• At German Street, the committee provided three possible scenarios for this crossing. Those included making the street a one-way, installing a a four-quadrant gate, or closing the crossing altogether and, instead, installing curbs and grass leading up to the crossing. Trzeciak noted the city would receive funding for the quiet zone project from the Ohio Rail Division if the city decided to close the crossing at German Street, but the city would not receive that funding if the city wanted to keep that crossing open. Trzeciak also added the committee included that scenario in the online survey about quiet zones, and 66 percent of residents who responded to the survey were in favor of closing the crossing if it meant reducing train noise and increasing safety.

• At Third/Maple Street, the city would have to install four-quadrant gates and the sidewalk would need to be adjusted. Private driveways would need to be moved.

There were no recommendations for Walnut Street.

There is also an annual maintenance fee the city would need to pay CSX if the city installs any four-quadrant gates. The fee would be $1,500 per crossing with a four-quadrant gate.

Council members appeared reluctant to close the German Street crossing. Council President Katelyn Berbach and Mayor Joe Gibson each asked for more information about costs. The council gave its consensus for the city to move forward with engineering the designs for these changes and providing construction costs. City Manager Tim Eggleston said the initial cost would be approximately $25,000.

Also on Monday, Chief of Police Eric Burris of the Tipp City Police Department gave a review of the department’s 2019 use of force incidents. Burris said out of over 16,000 calls for services, there were 16 reported incidents where an officer used force in 2019. There were 21 reports in 2018. Those incidents included:

• 7 reported incidents included the use of hands-on techniques.

• 5 incidents were because a firearm was pointed at a suspect.

• 3 events were because a Taser was aimed at a suspect.

• 1 incident was a K9 bite of a suspect that would not comply with officer orders to show his hands and come out of hiding.

There were no firearm discharges, no Taser discharges, no impact weapon (baton) strikes, and no use of OC spray in 2019, Burris said. Burris also went over the department’s use of force policies and training exercises.

Later on Monday evening, the council approved establishing two new Community Reinvestment Areas for the purpose of encouraging commercial investment. Community Reinvestment Area No. 8 will include property north of Evanston Road, south of West Main Street, east of County Road 25-A, and west of Interstate-75. This area will include approximately 330.75 acres, which include properties that are zoned light industrial, office space, and highway business.

Community Reinvestment Area No. 9, also approved Monday evening, will include property west of County Road 25-A adjacent to West Main Street/State Route 571 and/or Kerr Road. This area will include approximately 203.9 acres, which include properties that are zoned general business, suburban residential, and conservation district.

The council also held first reading of the following ordinances:

• An ordinance that would permit costs associated for the Wunderwood Drive roadway replacement project to be assessed to the property taxes for collection over a 15-year term.

• An ordinance that amends and modifies the 2020 Annual Operating Budget to appropriate additional monies for various unanticipated events which have occurred during the course of the City’s 2020 fiscal year.

• An ordinance approving a Subdivision/Replat of Inlot 2624 and the Dedication of Right-of-Way for Kinna Drive.

• An ordinance that authorizes the city manager to enter into a two- year contract with Rumpke of Ohio, Inc. for the collection and disposal of residential refuse, co-mingled recycling collection, co-mingled residential refuse and yard waste and yard waste removal.