The sound of silence

Picture by Matt Wright on Flickr

Picture by Matt Wright on Flickr

There always seems to be a lot of push back against change anywhere, and here in Austin probably more so. And so it is with some trepidation that I mention this.

If you live anywhere near the railroad track that runs through town you’ve probably got used to sound of the horns as the many trains per day pass through, and continue into the night. In one recent discussion, a neighbor even told me they found the sound of the horn “re-assuring”.

The point of the horns is, obviously, safety. To let people know the train is coming. Despite a 2005 Federal Railroad Administration law, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Locally, Dough Taylor a Bouldin Creek resident has been working with the city and the railroad to try to get “Quiet Zones” established for the crossings and Oltorf and W Mary St. and before Dough, Susan Littlejohn was working on it, so this isn’t a project by a bunch of newbies.

In order to get these quiet zones, cities can apply for an exemption to the Federal law as long as they are willing to pay for safety studies, install a variety of improvements at crossings and submit to regular federal review.

According to Dough, the city of Austin has agreed to this and has earmarked money for the conversion, but Dough needs a few extra people willing to help and attend meetings to move the process along. Austin isn’t unique in this respect, in fact it’s behind the curve. Communities and cities across the nation are working on this or already completed projects and no longer get the horn at night(yes, I know I couldn’t resist), including places such as Coon Rapids, MN and Bend, OR amongst many bigger cities such as Arizona.

If you’d like to work with Dough on this please post a comment. When posting please use your real email address and I will put you in touch with Dough. Your email address stays private, will not be published and not used for any other purpose.

1 Comment so far

  1. Robert Albritton (unregistered) on October 26th, 2009 @ 8:04 am

    Mr. Dough,

    Our company, Quiet Zone Technologies (QZT), has worked with communities all across the US to help them identify the most cost effective measures for establishing a Quiet Zone. We also are the exclusive distributor of the Automated Horn System (AHS), which is a wayside horn, that has been identified by the Federal Railroad Administration as one-for-one substitute for the train horn. Please feel free to contact me at (817) 820-6347 if we can provide you with any additional information.

    Best regards,

    Robert Albritton
    Quiet Zone Technologies

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