Date of Award

Fall 2021

Degree Type



Moore School of Business

Director of Thesis

Stanislav Markus

First Reader

Elisa Alvarez-Garrido

Second Reader

Elisa Alvarez-Garrido


This paper argues that there is an economic case for implementing “Quiet Zones”—public, at-grade, road-rail crossings where the usual federal requirement that locomotives sound their horns is suspended—in Richland County, South Carolina in particular, and in the Midlands region of that state in general. Quiet Zones cost money: in some instances, a few thousand dollars; in cases where federal rules require substantial upgrades to infrastructure, many millions. It may nonetheless cost more to not implement them: existing research has found that properties exposed to chronic noise pollution are worth less. While higher property values are not the only benefit of Quiet Zones, they are the most powerful argument in a nation with over 120,000 public grade crossings and $36 trillion in residential property. This study makes that argument from start to finish. It models sound levels; regresses property values on that sound; proposes 14 Quiet Zones for Richland County, South Carolina; estimates their total implementation cost; computes the projected increase in property values that would result; and proposes that the task be assigned to a new entity: an independent public authority.

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