February 23, 2007

Moline proposes spending tens of thousands of dollars because of hotel guest complaint.

This is the most ridiculous waste of money ever.
The bellow of train horns could be silenced downtown as part of the city's plans for downtown housing.

The city wants to establish a quiet zone from 12th to 41st streets, one where trains that travel the tracks between River Drive and 4th Avenue wouldn't be allowed to blow their horns at intersections.

City officials said they don't know how many trains pass through the 29-block area each day, and train officials wouldn't say.

However, the trains are required by federal law to sound their horns 15 to 20 seconds before crossing an intersection, unless the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) allows the city to change that.

In the heart of downtown Moline, there are five railroad crossings between 23rd and 12th streets, creating almost constant sound when a train passes through.

Moline staff asked aldermen this week to spend $8,900 to pay the Ament engineering firm of Cedar Rapids to review the city's existing rail crossing safety measures.

Ament also would contact the ICC to determine what additional safety measures would be required for a quiet zone, and work with the railroads - Iowa Interstate and Burlington Northern & Santa Fe - to determine how much it would cost to install those safety measures, city engineer Scott Hinton, said.

The ICC would make the final decision on the quiet zone, and the city would bear all costs associated with making the crossings safer, Mr. Hinton said.

Mayor Don Welvaert said he realized there was a problem when the manager of a downtown hotel told him a guest who was supposed to stay six weeks, checked out after one week because of the early-morning train horns.

"That was my wake-up call," Mayor Welvaert said. "The train whistle coming through town is in complete opposition with what we are trying to do downtown. Either we deal with it, or we rethink what we want to do with residential housing."

OK, fine, they're concerned about train horns. But to take the complaint of one finicky and apparently jumpy hotel guest and then propose what may in the end cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars simply to eliminate train horns strikes me as almost ridiculous.

Just how long would the supposed lost business due to occasional train horns take to equal the thousands spent to try to eliminate it?

And why should Moline taxpayers spring to let downtown residents sleep in quiet when there are hundreds and hundreds of homes and residences nearly on top of the tracks near other crossings throughout the city?

Are downtown residents more precious than the others? Perhaps they have more delicate ears than those living along Railroad Ave.? Or is it simply that they have bigger bank accounts?

The fact remains that those who live near rail crossings often get to the point where they don't even hear the horns anymore once they are used to them.

This seems like a gold-plated waste of money to try to aid developers of downtown real estate based on a laughably flimsy example of one hotel patron who allegedely cut short a hotel stay due to the train noise.

How does this make sound fiscal sense?

And why isn't the city making ALL the crossings in town whistle-free? Why just those downtown, which due to the numerous crossings will cost that much more?

And finally, just who exactly would this benefit the most?


At 2/26/2007 7:15 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

This is nothing new in Moline. The Mayor and Council just love to spend money on consultants. Moline is probably on some list somewhere with a big "Sucker" drawn above it -- for all the consultants who are looking for a group who are happy to throw money at someone to "get the desired result" and thus justify whatever they want at the time. The library is a perfect example of that concept. I remember that when Pat O'Brien sat as Alderman, he used to routinely question why we wanted to spend money for these types of schemes which were often reduntant and repetitive. The newspaper called that anti-growth....

The "wake up call" our goofy Moline Mayor is talking about is just another concept that he wants to justify by spending thousands of tax dollars. That way no one takes responsibility for the decision - just point to the consultant - long after he/she has left town and no one remembers who.....made the statement--for a price!!

At 3/05/2007 3:33 PM, Anonymous Sammy G said...

They (The Moline Elites: RewNew MoLine) wanted put all this stuff downtown.

The horns are sounded for safety measures!

This hotel is backed by city money tax dollars. Not private dollars.


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