Train Crossing Quiet Zones

It's a continuing debate between safety, and peace and quiet. Train horns can blow at all hours of the day or night to warn traffic of an oncoming train.

But now there are new federal rules affecting communities, like Madison, that want to keep those horns quiet in some parts of the city.

Communities now have a timeline for establishing quiet zones in order to create or keep existing whistle bans at railroad crossings. The Federal Railroad Administration ruled Friday that communities can choose to silence train horns if they meet certain safety regulations. The rule goes into effect on June 24th.

But because the city of Madison already has a whistle ban, officials will have one year from that date to install additional safety measures before the train horns would start sounding again.

There's a lot to do, but a spokesperson from the mayor's office says they're going to do their best to make it happen. George Twigg says, "It's too early to say what we'll be able to do within that time period, but we're going to work very hard to put as many together as possible once we see all the details of the federal rule."

Rodney Kreunen is the Wisconsin Railroad Commisser. "I would hope it would, somebody needs to get out their checkbook. Our concern is railroad safety, if I never go to another accident in my life, that's alright. The reason for blowing the horn is because you need to alert motorists."

Federal railroad admistration officials say this final rule balances safety and quality of life issues. It will preempt state laws and related railroad operating rules that require train horns be sounded.

The bottom line is that Madison's current whistle restriction ordinance remains in effect until June 2006.

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