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PTC must do more to silence loud CSX freight trains on 74

I moved to Peachtree City back in June of 2008. I chose Peachtree City for the great living in the overall peacefulness of the area. I purchased my home in the Cedarcroft subdivision knowing my home would be right next to the CSX railroad track.

But also knowing that there were no railroad crossings in the area, I thought there would be no horn sounds. Boy, was I wrong.

There seems to be games played by the trains passing our subdivision as well as the Centennial and other neighboring subdivisions on how many times and how loud they can be with their horns. On the night of April 9 and 10 several trains passed by sounding their horns. One sounded its horn over 15 times.

I have sent several emails to Mayor Don Haddix and City council members, and Mayor Haddix’s reply was, “You think it’s bad now, wait until the Kia plant is at full capacity. It will only get worse and CSX is also planning on adding additional rail lines through the area and there is nothing we can do about it.”

He also said that there is nothing we can do because the tracks are under federal control; in other words, it’s a federal issue, not a local issue.

Well, Mr. Mayor you are wrong. We as citizens of the area have every right to complain at both the local level to CSX, the city, county as well as the federal level.

CSX is governed by the Federal Railroad Administration and they must answer to local government complaints and concerns. In addition we as a city have options.

But the big question I have is why has the city not contacted CSX and the Federal Railroad Administration to establish a “quiet zone” on trains passing through our city. It can be done and not at such a high cost.

I have been reading the federal regulations that govern the use of locomotive horns (Department of Transportation, FRA 49 CFR Parts 222 and 229) and we as a local community can request a “quiet zone” be established within our city limits.

Federal Railroad Administration Train Horn Rule Fact Sheet states: “A new quiet zone must be at least one-half mile in length and have at least one public highway-rail grade crossing. Every public grade crossing in a new quiet zone must be equipped at minimum with the standard or conventional flashing light and gate automatic warning system. A quiet zone may be established to cover a full 24-hour period or only during the overnight period from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

“Local governments must work in cooperation with the railroad that owns the track, and the appropriate state transportation authority to form a diagnostic team to assess the risk of collision at each grade crossing where they wish to silence the horn. An objective determination is made about where and what type of additional safety engineering improvements are necessary to effectively reduce the risk associated with silencing the horns based on localized conditions such as highway traffic volumes, train traffic volumes, the accident history and physical characteristics of the crossing, including existing safety measures.

“Examples of additional safety engineering improvements that may be necessary to reduce the risk of collisions include: medians on one or both sides of the tracks to prevent a motorist from driving around a lowered gate; a four-quadrant gate system to block all lanes of highway traffic; converting a two-way street into a one-way street; permanent closure of the crossing to highway traffic; or use of wayside horns posted at the crossing directed at highway traffic only.”

It appears to me that this would be a worthwhile undertaking by the city which would benefit a significant part of our city’s population. It would dramatically improve the quality of living in our city.

Let’s put resources to this goal of silencing the CSX trains traveling through our city.

I encourage everyone to go the CSX website (www.csx.com) under the “contact us” and complain every time a train passes sounding its horns. I also encourage everyone to contact City Council, and Mayor Don Haddix and ask that the city take this issue on.

Maybe instead of widening the cart path bridge over Lake Peachtree at Ga. Highway 54, we should spend that money on any improvements that may be needed at our railroad crossings that will be needed to establish this needed quiet zone.

William Nieves

Peachtree City, Ga.

Location: 

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