Noisy trains one problem we don't have

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

In case you haven't noticed, some McCook residents take particular joy in complaining about the community.

In a way, it's good they do; if people don't speak out about injustice, waste or other shortcomings, nothing will be done.

But when we do complain, we should take time to count our blessings as well.

Those of us who have lived in other towns, or who read about conflicts or problems elsewhere know we have plenty of blessings to count.

A story from today's Omaha World Herald details problems other Nebraska cities are having with one of McCook's strongest assets.

While we enjoy the benefits of being home to a major employer like the BNSF Railroad, towns like Ralston, York, Blair and Grand Island are grappling with the problem of the noise of passing trains.

Although the tracks have been there longer than any of the homes, owners of some properties are now complaining about the rumble of the wheels and the blaring of horns by the engineers. And, it's not a good selling point for the homeowner when it's time to move.

Ralston is considering building a "quiet zone" that may include medians, one-way streets and a four-quadrant gate system to prevent motorists from driving around the gates. Like any improvement, however, it will be expensive -- about $100,000, according to the mayor.

It's not just the BNSF, of course, communities like Kearney, along the Union Pacific, have struggled with the problems of noise and busy ground-level problems for years.

McCook has no such problems. The sounding of a train horn is rare, and since crews change in McCook, speed is not a problem.

Besides, there are no ground-level crossings in McCook; thanks to the U.S. 83 viaduct and the Federal Avenue underpass.

Yes, the railroad's leaky diesel tanks did pollute part of the land in our community and that proved costly when it came time to build our new water system.

But overall, the railroad has certainly been good to McCook.

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