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Mark Chekola, Moorhead, Letter: Major improvement in our quality of life

We have had the quiet zone in Moorhead for a little over a week now. How wonderful it is. I expect that this will prove to be perhaps the major improvement in quality of life for Fargo-Moorhead residents in recent years. We owe thanks to Moorhead...

We have had the quiet zone in Moorhead for a little over a week now. How wonderful it is. I expect that this will prove to be perhaps the major improvement in quality of life for Fargo-Moorhead residents in recent years. We owe thanks to Moorhead City Council member John Rowell, who raised the idea and was a key figure in the lengthy complicated process.

It is well-known that noise is a significant stress for people. The train horns, at a level of more than 120 decibels, can cause hearing damage for those near the source. They interrupted conversations and sleep for some for quite a distance from the tracks.

The railroad claimed it was necessary for safety. However, it is clear there are other alternatives. Other countries that have even more train traffic than we do have not had a practice of such loud warnings without compromising safety. And the quiet zone has shown there are other ways to make crossings safe.

While those of us who live here had got somewhat used to it, reactions of visitors and new residents who typically found the train horns to be awful reminded us of the problem of the excessive sound levels and frequency of use of the train horns. Moorhead's ordinances covering nuisances prohibits noise from homes which can be heard at a distance of 50 feet, with a hefty fine for violators. Compare that to the distance the train horns can be heard.

The fact that we let it go on for so long is an interesting example of how people sometimes passively put up with abusive nuisances. I expect we'll wonder in the future why we let it go on so long.

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