Citing safety worries, officials don't try to silence train horns

Monday, January 29, 2007

Scott City's government has publicly criticized Union Pacific Railroad frequent in recent years, but one issue is not a bone of contention between the two parties -- quiet zones.

Many cities along railroad tracks have instituted "quiet zones" in which trains cannot sound their horns at crossings during certain times of the day. Federal regulations allow municipalities to establish the zones to reduce noise pollution in city life. Scott City is not one of them, despite residents' complaints about the horns.

Mayor Tim Porch said the city decided not to implement the zones due to the liability the city would incur for any crashes that happen at crossings during quiet hours.

Instead, city residents, some of whom live just feet away from tracks, must tolerate the horns whenever they sound. For some of Scott City's older residents, like Jane Hart, the inconvenience is minimal. Hart comes from a railroad family and gets angry when she hears complaints about the horns. She knows conductors must sound their horns for job security and public safety reasons.

"I honestly appreciate the whistle blowing," said Hart. "I've had several friends that's gotten killed by a train, and I'd sure hate to see somebody else get killed."

-- Matt Sanders

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