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A railroad runs through it- Bellevue fights to keep the train whistles quiet | WQAD Throwback

There was a quiet zone already in place for trains crossing through Bellevue, Iowa, but a federal law in 1995 threatened to disturb the peace.

BELLEVUE, Iowa — Editor's note: This is part of a series looking back at stories out of the WQAD archives. This particular one was a piece from November 1995, reported on by WQAD's Greg Vandegrift.

Picture perfect Bellevue, Iowa, a charming Mississippi river town. You can even hear leaves dance down the street, kids in the school yard and church bells bouncing off the blocks... but every now and then, an interruption. 

About eight times a day, trains rattle right through the heart of town.

“The china and crystal in my curio and in my china cabinet, they move.”

“We have a limestone building and sometimes we hear limestone in between the walls falling down.”

“Not anything that we, you know, we've grown accustomed to it.”

This town does its best to keep the trains under control. In fact, Bellevue has outlawed the whistle, but the federal government is trying to blow that whistle. A new law requires trains to whistle at intersections. 

For the government, it's a safety issue. For Bellevue, it's a noise issue. With 15 crossings inside of a mile, City Administrator Tom Roth thinks the whistle would blow all the way through town traveling at 10 miles per hour or less.

"Six to ten minutes, times eight or ten trains a day. You know it could be anywhere to an hour, hour and a half a day. "

That's a sound many here can do without.

"Just another thing to put up with I guess. First, the vibrations and now the noise."

"I don't think I would like that either."

Right now the lunch siren seems the loudest noise in town. Bellevue plans to keep it that way, pleading its unique case. Simply put, a railroad runs through it.

Editor's note: WQAD followed up on this story with a call to Bellevue City Administrator and Clerk Abbey Skrivseth. Skrivseth reports that because a whistle ban was already in place between the town and the rail line, the town was exempt from that 1995 federal proposal.

The town was able to leverage existing ordinances that were already in place and a quiet zone still exists.

The city has closed a few crossings over the years to allow the train to increase its speed.

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