East Grand Forks on track to implement railroad quiet zone near Sacred Heart School

The quiet zone will make it so that trains don't need to routinely sound the horn at three crossings near the school

EGF railroad quiet zone.jpg
The steeple atop Sacred Heart Catholic Church in East Grand Forks is framed by a passing train at the railroad crossing at Third Street Northwest on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Construction will begin later this year to close the crossing as part of the railroad's quiet zone.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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EAST GRAND FORKS — The establishment of a railroad quiet zone near Sacred Heart School is moving along, with the potential of construction starting as soon as the weather warms.

A quiet zone would mean trains don't have to routinely sound their horns along the three crossings near Sacred Heart School. Safety features will be placed at the three crossings to meet the quiet zone requirements.

East Grand Forks City Administrator David Murphy said that because the quiet zone has been approved by Minnesota Department of Transportation, BNSF and City Council, the next steps are to go out for bids to start the construction.

Among the first steps in the construction process is to close Third Street Northwest where it crosses the train tracks. Closing the crossing was part of the requirements as there’s a need to “minimize the number of crossings in a quiet zone,” Murphy said.

Keeping the Third Street Northwest crossing open would also have been pricey as it would require a gate system that would have cost an estimated $750,000 to $1 million.


With the crossing at Third Street Northwest closing, there are currently two options for what to do with Hill Street Northwest, which is on the other side of the tracks. One option is to turn the road into a one-way street with parking along the north side of the roadway. The other is to eliminate parking on the roadway and keep it as a two-way street.

The railroad crossings at Central Avenue Northwest and Second Avenue Northeast will require work to adhere to the quiet zone requirements with the needed safety features. The estimated construction cost for all three crossings is $387,000. The city will receive $156,203 from BNSF as an incentive for closing the Third Street Northwest crossing.

Murphy said along with the number of crossings being minimized, approved cross arms and physical barriers will also be needed. To ensure the safety of pedestrians, a fence will run from Central Avenue Northwest to the floodwall west of Third Street Northwest.

“With the improvements, it will hopefully make it even safer,” Murphy said.

Depending on the timing for upgrades needed for the railroad crossing gates and signal system at Second Avenue Northeast, the quiet zone may not be established until 2023.

The quiet zone by Sacred Heart School has long been a discussion item at City Council.

“It’s been talked about off and on since well before I’ve been here and I've been here eight years,” Murphy said.

At a 2019 City Council meeting , council members considered the cost of establishing a quiet zone after Sacred Heart School spent years asking for the city to do something about the distraction train horns were having on the learning environment.


While this will be the first quiet zone in East Grand Forks, across the river in Grand Forks there are a total of five quiet zones, with the first being implemented in 2011.

The five zones are:

  • The Downtown Zone, including crossings at South Third Street, South Fourth Street, South Fifth Street and North 42nd Street.
  • The Glasston Zone, including crossings at University Avenue, Sixth Avenue North and Gateway Drive.
  • The DeMers Avenue West Wye Zone.
  • The DeMers Avenue East Wye Zone.
  • The North 55th Street Zone.
Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 719-235-8640 or

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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