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Friday, October 09, 2009

Arizona OKs Flagstaff train horn silencing plan

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Flagstaff officials finally will be able to silence train horns at the city's five at-grade railroad crossings in coming months, the Arizona Sun reports. The Arizona Corporation Commission voted unanimously this afternoon to allow the city and BNSF to begin installation of safety equipment at each of the crossings.

The commission halted construction in late April after state utility regulators learned the city had started construction of the quiet zones without ACC approval. It referred the matter to an administrative law judge, who recommended approval of the city's plan last month and sent the matter to the commission for a final vote. The delay imposed by the ACC was considered to be the final hurdle to implementing the city's quiet zone plans.

At the time, commission staff feared the installation of the directional wayside horns, which would replace the sounding of train horns at two of the crossings, might confuse train engineers before the plan was implemented. The commission meeting, however, focused heavily on the pedestrian safety measures for the two downtown crossings at Beaver and San Francisco streets. In the end, the commissioners did not require the city to make any changes to the current quiet zone plans.

City officials declined to name a starting date for train horn silence, saying there were still several weeks' worth of construction ahead. The city has been pursuing quiet zones since 2004.