Reduce Train Horn Noise in Gloucester City

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If you live in Gloucester City, you've definitely noticed the railroad track running directly through the the center of town. What's even more glaringly obvious is what you hear, the very loud, very annoying train horn.

Current regulations call for the horn to be sounded 4 times at every intersection, so that's 40 horn blasts made in less than a mile. Within 500' you can expect horn noise levels at or above ~90 decibels, think lawnmower at 4' away. This 500' area around the tracks represents 30% of the entire city. This is everyday and any time day or night and is very very excessive. If your neighbor started mowing the lawn at 1AM, then 5AM, then again at 6:30AM for good measure, I would assume you may take issue with that. 

These are what federal regulations call for whether it is one train crossing in rural Iowa or 10 crossings in a densely populated New Jersey city. Those simply are the rules and they really just aren't designed with densely populated residential areas in mind. So with this in mind a solution was provided, an exception to the rules called a Quiet Zone. The Quiet Zone allows for trains to pass safely without sounding the horn at every intersection. How is that safe if the horn isn't sounding? Part of the Quiet Zone regulations require the safety risks to be at or ABOVE the risk levels they were without the horn. This is done by installing supplementary safety measures (SSMs) such as quad-gates or medians, or Alternative Safety Measures (ASMs) like modified SSMs, enforcement/education programs, wayside horns, or other measures. The risks are assessed and if the safety thresholds are met then the new rules can take effect. 

Getting up to speed. A group of residents have been working with the Gloucester City administration to obtain Quiet Zone status for the city. This has been ongoing effort for 4 years at this point. Work by residents has included sitting in on meetings with city officials, the Federal Railroad Administration and the Department of Transportation, spending their personal time recording traffic data of intersections, and helping determine what solutions are viable.  

The good news, we are at the point where there is a road map to have this project completed. The bad news, things cost money, what a surprise. As the tax-paying residents who fund the city, I would like to show those in a position to make decisions that this is a project that is worth funding whether it be municipally, federally, or at the state/county level. Action needs to done from within the administration to make this happen. Transportation noise has been shown as one of the leading complaints of urban residents and has been shown to have real long-term physiological and psychological impacts. And with rail activity only continuing to increase, this isn't just going to go away. Of the planes, trains, AND automobiles here, we can significantly reduce one and that is a great opportunity. The establishment of a Quiet Zone would substantially increase the quality of life for many residents of Gloucester City and make the city more desirable to live in and do business. Any initial financial burdens will quickly be realized as result of this. 

This should be a goal for the current and future administration of Gloucester City. Please sign this petition to show that is has the support of the community.

 

For more information on Quiet Zones, please refer to the following -

https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0889

 



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