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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Edmond, Okla., woman wants to silence train horns

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Cindy Hammett plans to retire this summer and spend more time at home taking care of her two young grandchildren. She hopes she doesn't have to spend that time listening to train horns sounding near her house. Hammett doesn't like the horns blowing day and night, NewsOK reports.

"They blast them so loud I can hear them from Second Street to Danforth Road," said Hammett, who lives a quarter of a mile from a railroad track, in Edmond North Estates. "They really lay down on the horns."

City officials routinely have heard complaints from Hammett and others. They said there is no money in next year's budget or in five-year budget projections for a railroad quiet zone.

City officials in 2008 said they would budget money this fiscal year to study the effectiveness and cost associated with different safety measures for the BNSF grade crossings. That never happened.

The use of train horns is required by federal law, and they can only be silenced when other safety measures compensate for the absence of horns. Additional safety measures must meet federal specifications and must adequately overcome the decrease in safety created by silencing the horns. A quiet zone is a railroad crossing at which trains are prohibited from sounding their horns in order to decrease the noise level for nearby residential neighborhoods.

City Engineer Steve Manek said, "The project would cost tens of thousands of dollars. It is a tremendous amount of money." He estimated it could cost more than $2 million.

The recent completion of the $6.1-million Covell Road underpass has given Hammett and others a little help because the train no longer has to sound its horn as it passes Covell Road. The railroad tracks were moved, and a new four-lane roadway was built under the new tracks.

Hammett wishes city officials would look at other alternative warning devices if Edmond can't afford changing the design and equipment at each of the railroad crossings.

"At least they wouldn't have to start blasting their horns a quarter of a mile from the intersection," Hammett said.

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