'Quiet zones' delayed for downtown Lakeland - FOX 13 News

'Quiet zones' delayed for downtown Lakeland

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LAKELAND (FOX 13) -

Downtown Lakeland was supposed to be more quiet these days. So-called 'quiet zones' were scheduled to go into effect almost a month ago, but they haven't. The plan was to institute the quiet zones when the new CSX hub began operating in Winter Haven.

You don't have to tell Carol Erkes, founder of Florida Dance Theatre, about the delay. Her studio sits right next to the tracks on Main Street.

"The train is so loud, sometimes we have to dance with our fingers in our ears until it passes, and there's a lot more of them," she said.

There are now up to 20 trains a day passing through downtown. It's not the perfect place to try and conduct business either when a train is whistling away.

"You gotta wait for the train to pass by before you can finish a thought or a statement sometimes," said Kevin Smith, owner of Southern Family Insurance Services.

After the quiet zones take effect, the train engineer would only sound off in an emergency.

Why the delay? CSX just installed new quad arms at train intersections. When they come down, the gap between them was supposed to be about a foot. It ended up being about five feet.

So now, local and state transportation officials, along with CSX, have to come up with a fix. Possibly a temporary, then a more long-term one.

"That could be done with concrete medians, moving the flashing light and gates on each side to meet the federal requirement or putting in temporary ((rubber posts)) to prevent vehicles from going through the gates," said Chuck Barmby, Lakeland Transportation Planner.

Whatever the approach, Lakeland is going to have to wait a little longer for peace and quiet. Officials say it could be up to three months before the quiet zones go into effect.

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