Post Falls, the city that (unfortunately) never sleeps

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On May 21 I received an email from Shelly Enderud, city administrator for Post Falls. She noted I had reached out to Mayor Jacobson and started a conversation about Quiet Zones and was inviting me to the City Council meeting the following evening. The presentation to the City Council was going to be on a recommendation to adopt the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization policy on the Establishment of Railroad Quiet Zones.

I felt an unseemly, and as it turns out, inappropriate rush of anticipatory joy. Call me naïve, but I thought the city of Post Falls was actually going to do something to address the issue. Instead they seemed to simply be making the case that creating a Quiet Zone is prohibitively expensive. I could be wrong but I think I smell an LID coming toward the taxpayers of Post Falls, like, well, a freight train.

The rail line I live adjacent to runs through high-density yet lovely neighborhoods. The people who are my neighbors take beautiful care of their homes, they pay the mortgages on time, I bet, and we all pay property taxes, fairly high ones. In short, we are the kind of people who are the backbone of a town like Post Falls. We deserve an environment of respect without the impact of noise levels that can create serious health issues.

Here’s a little something I found sourced from the Australian Academy of Science:

“It might be tempting to think that noise isn’t a serious health issue, after all, it’s just noise. It won’t kill us … right? Well, maybe.

“Exposure to prolonged or excessive noise has been shown to cause a range of health problems ranging from stress, poor concentration, productivity losses in the workplace, and communication difficulties and fatigue from lack of sleep, to more serious issues such as cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, tinnitus and hearing loss.

“In 2011 the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report titled ‘Burden of disease from environmental noise.’ This study collated data from various large-scale epidemiological studies of environmental noise in Western Europe, collected over a 10-year period.

“The studies analyzed environmental noise from planes, trains and vehicles, as well as other city sources, and then looked at links to health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, sleep disturbance, tinnitus, cognitive impairment in children, and annoyance.”

Not to belabor the issue but why would I end the quote on the word ‘annoyance’? Simple, the good people of Post Falls are irritated by the city’s apparent inability to act. Most people are unaware that the city of Rathdrum instituted a Quiet Zone there roughly 10 years ago and I don’t recall the citizens having to storm the castle to get it done. The folks in Post Falls are about to grab the pitchforks and pine torches and I’m helping organize the revolt.

I have it from a good source that the City Engineering department in conjunction with Eric Shanley, a director with Lakes Highway District, have asserted we need raised medians at all ‘no-horn’ crossings. The Federal Railroad Administration has stated that raised medians are not always required at ‘low risk’ crossings. Low risk crossings are determined by numbers of vehicles using the crossing, number and speed of trains and if pedestrian use is occurring.

If we look at the crossings at Chase Road, Grange Road, Spokane Street, and Prairie Avenue, every single crossing has gates, lights, bells and road markings. In short, for low-risk crossings, the precise measures which can be found to be sufficient.

The payoff for Post Falls is huge in terms of becoming a tremendously attractive place to live. I’m not clear as to why the city would fail to implement an ordinance that would make almost the entire population rejoice.

Go to: http://cantsleep.city/ and sign the petition if you’d like the city of Post Falls to get serious about stopping the horns. Let’s not simply ‘adopt a policy,’ let’s give the people of Post Falls the peace and quiet they deserve.

•••

Linda Cook is a Post Falls resident.

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