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According to the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), a quiet zone is a railroad grade crossing at which trains are prohibited from sounding their horns in order to decrease the noise level for nearby residential communities. The train horns can be silenced only when increased safety measures compensate for the absence of the horns.
There are over 860 Quiet Zones in communities across the nation with more being added every year. Also, a Quiet Zone is a half mile stretch of rail. There can be multiple crossings in that zone. Which means that there are thousands of crossings across the United States that are quiet.
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Yes. Freight and passenger trains will still sound horns in emergencies, such as when a car or pedestrian is on the tracks. Trains are also required to sound horns when accelerating from a stopped position and when crews and equipment are working on the track. Also, the crossings at Crane Road and Evanston are not within Tipp City limits. The trains will still be sounding horns at those crossings.
If the train engineer at any time feels equipment is not working or if someone is visible on the tracks, he/she does not need to follow the Quiet Zone rule and can sound the horn.
Historically, railroads have sounded locomotive horns or whistles in advance of grade crossings as a safety precaution. The FRA requires that freight and passenger trains sound horns 20 seconds prior to reaching public crossings, 24 hours a day, to warn motorists and pedestrians that a train is approaching, unless a quiet zone has been approved. Train crews may also sound their horns when there is a vehicle, person, or animal on or near the track, and the crew determines it is appropriate to provide warning. Crews may also sound the horn when there are track or construction workers within 25 feet of a live track, or when gates and lights at the crossing are not functioning properly.
The sound level for a train horn averages over 100 decibels. To put that into context, when the US government released memos regarding the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, they included specific instructions that any “white noise/loud sounds” were not to exceed 79 decibels. According to OSHA at 100 dBA, NIOSH recommends less than 15 minutes of exposure per day.
The train horn noise level in Tipp City has been measured at 80+ decibels in the area from the Fire Department on Main Street to First Street. All homes and businesses in Tipp City between the tracks and the levee/bike path are effectively in this area, as well as nearly 1,000 homes west of the tracks; the noise level is measured at 90+ decibels one block from the tracks in each direction - from 4th Street to 6th Street at Main Street, which includes over 150 homes.
Studies have demonstrated correlations that link noise exposure to health and learning issues, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease; impaired reading, memory, and speech in children; sleep disturbance, which can lead to diabetes and other health concerns; and tinnitus (publications by the World Health Organization, Toronto Public Health, Federal Railroad Administration and the American Psychological Association).
All the crossings in Tipp City would be updated to the latest safety codes and increased with several options. Those options are: Four-quadrant gates, center medians and barriers, or permanent closure.
In a Quiet Zone, real estate values would likely rise approximately 10% in areas within the sound of the horn (local property appraisers).This may have a ripple effect on property values throughout the area and make homes in the area more attractive to buyers compared to those not located in a Quiet Zone.
Yes. The City of Tipp City and the Tipp City Police have recommended looking into closing the Plum Street and German Street Crossings due to the dangerously high crossings there. It is not safe for some longer vehicles, such as Fire Trucks, to cross. Nothing has been decided and no decision will be made to actually close a crossing until the Quiet Zone report has been submitted to the city.
Under the Train Horn Rule, locomotive engineers must sound train horns for a minimum of 15 seconds, and a maximum of 20 seconds, prior to entering crossings. Wherever feasible, train horns must be sounded in a standardized pattern of two long, one short, and one long. The horn must continue to sound until the lead locomotive or train car occupies the grade crossing
The soonest that a city-funded Quiet Zone can realistically be implemented is 18 months, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
The crossings under review are Park Avenue, Plum Street, Walnut Street, Main Street, Dow Street, Broadway Street, German Street, and South Third Street. The crossings at Crane Road and Evanston Road are not within Tipp City limits. The trains would still be sounding horns at those crossings.
The Quiet Zone Committee meets at least once a month at Tipp City Hall. You can check the calendar for the next meeting. If you would like to be on the committee, please email Janice Bates for an application at firstname.lastname@example.org. The application is just a formality and all residents are welcome to join!