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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