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Michigan City approves quiet zone funding

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Michigan City approves quiet zone funding

Michigan City City Council approved $1 million in ARPA funds to help create a quiet zone along the South Shore Line.

MICHIGAN CITY — The City Council approved $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to help create a quiet zone along the South Shore Line route through the city.

Engineers will still sound their horns if they see anything dangerous, Councilwoman Tracie Tillman, D-5th, said.

Resident Tommy Kulavik, a frequent South Shore rider, warned against creating the quiet zone. “I think with quiet zones we’re going to see an increase in accidents,” he said.

South Shore Double Track Project celebration

With City Council action to create a quiet zone, and Federal Railroad Administration approval, improvements will be made at grade crossings to deter vehicles from crossing the tracks when a train is coming. Those can include a raised median between lanes and crossarms that extend all the way across the road. Closing a crossing is an option, too.

“We can only go so far as far as the guardrail can be,” Tillman said. Each crossing is evaluated separately to determine the best way to handle vehicle traffic.

Resident Rodney McCormick advised against closing crossings. “As public servants, shouldn’t you listen to the public?” he asked. “These people vote for you.”

“This is not closing down Holliday Street,” Councilman Bryant Dabney, D-1st, said. “The crossings are going to be safe so they can be quiet zones.”

“You cannot take your car and jump over the median to get around the rail,” he added.

The Double Track NWI project includes improvements at grade crossings to qualify for a quiet zone on the western side of the city. The council’s recent 6-0 vote means the remaining crossings, outside the project’s boundaries, will also be improved.

In other action, Council Vice President Don Przybylinski, D-at large, blasted Mayor Duane Parry for not attending the council’s latest meeting to provide an update on the status of street and sidewalk repairs.

“At least show the council some respect to come and discuss the item” as Przybylinski requested, he said.

Other cities have already begun that work, Przybylinski observed. “To me, the city’s behind the 8-ball in this whole thing.”

At the city’s Fourth of July parade, Przybylinski noticed sidewalks in poor condition. “That’s our downtown area that’s going to explode with 50,000 people moving in,” he said.

Washington Park needs attention as well. “Some of those sidewalks are in horrendous shape,” Przybylinski said.

“A good sidewalk is a friend to everyone,” he said.

Council President Angie Deuitch, D-at large, expressed dismay over mass shootings, including the recent one at Highland Park, Illinois. “These mass shootings are happening more and more often, and we’re becoming almost immune to some of them,” she said.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a new law that allows Hoosiers 18 and older to carry a handgun without a permit, despite testimony from police officers who objected to the legislation. They said the law would make their job more difficult by limiting their ability to question people carrying a weapon in public.

Fire Chief Doug LeGault said he is working with the county EMS director to get information on overdoses in the city. There have been more than 145 drug overdoses in LaPorte County this year. LeGault believes 76 of them were in Michigan City, but getting that information requires checking each report, a tedious process.

Przybylinski had requested that data and hopes it can become available monthly.

That’s about one every three days, Councilman Sean Fitzpatrick, D-4th, said.

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