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Could Stuart soon see safer and quieter railroad crossings?

Stuart city leaders look to make improvements at railroad crossings
Posted at 6:58 PM, Apr 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-10 19:11:38-04

STUART, Fla. — Stuart city leaders are considering changes to intersections like confusion corner and sailfish circle, which would allow them to qualify for "quiet zones."

Residents who neighbor train tracks in Stuart reflect on how often they hear the all to familiar sound of a blaring horn.

“Five or six times a night,” resident Grace Williams said.

“Six or seven times a day," resident Vincent Green added.

Stuart resident Vincent Green quiet zones April 10 2024.png
Stuart resident Vincent Green shares how he is not really in favor of "quiet zones."

The city of Stuart has just reopened discussions on "quiet zones" at the five Stuart crossings along Dixie Highway from Florida Street to Fern Street.

“We had a meeting with a representative from the federal rail administration to discuss quiet zones with us more from the pretext of we want to know how safe our intersections were,” City Manager Mike Mortell said.

Williams lives two blocks away from the tracks and couldn’t be happier to hear the news about the discussion.

“You’ll be trying to rest and some people got to get up and go to work, and you’re not getting the proper rest because of it,” she said.

Stuart resident Grace Williams quiet zones April 10 2024
Stuart resident Grace Williams explains how "quiet zones" can benefit those who work.

Previously, the city tried to apply for "quiet zones" with Martin County, but county leaders decided it would be best to wait a year. Now, the city has found a way to apply on their own, they just need to make it safer at the railroad crossings.

“We are definitely going to make a few changes to both Confusion Corner and Selfish Circle as you approach them, some signs that make it better for the drivers and cars and pedestrians to understand it," Mortell said. "We are going to add an exit gate on Colorado that makes it so no one can accidentally go the wrong direction into the railroad tracks and we're going to make some adjustments regarding some turn lanes and yield signs versus stop signs.”

City Manager Mike Mortell April 10 2024.png
City Manager Mike Mortell explains the benefit of quiet zones.

Not all residents are on board. Green said he’s gotten used to the train horns and hopes the city chooses not to apply for "quiet zones."

“I'm for the train horns in a sense because what that does is that let’s people know that, 'Hey, the train is coming,'" he said. "Sometimes people may not be looking at it at the time."

The city said they’re still in the early stages of the process, but they’ve already started counting traffic at the crossings. It's the first step in what could be a year long effort.