March 15, 2005

Point Residents Feel The Frustration of Blaring Horns

Continual Horn Blowing and Blocked Streets Plague Residents
by Fred H. Arm
Every day and every night, the piercing horns of lumbering freight trains offend our senses and impair our health and sense of well-being. It seems that the frequency of trains has significantly increased over the past few years with no sign of any impending reduction; in fact, the railroads have predicted continuing increases in the frequency of train traffic.

Medical scientists and others the world over have proven that high decibel noise of the type produced by train horns is not only offensive to hear, but insidiously damages our health and well-being. These health effects are especially deleterious when they interfere with sleep, since this produces long-lasting effects. Regrettably, most residents feel there is little or nothing they can do to halt the raucous onslaught, which simply amounts to an assault upon our ears. Frustration levels are at an all-time high in our once peaceful community.

Some hope seems to be in sight with the new Federal regulations that will allow the creation of Quiet Zones. Quiet Zones can be established provided that the crossings in question meet rather strict requirements for safety. Considering the City of Richmond’s financial condition, despite their willingness to bring a number of crossings up to the standards required in the new Federal guidelines, will no doubt be hampered by a lack of city funds. Even if such funds are allocated, it may take months if not years until the construction actually would begin. We remain optimistic about the eventual creation of Quiet Zones around the city; yet, the remaining question lingers, “How much longer will we be forced to endure the continuing noise pollution?”

So, what, if anything, can we do to expedite the process? Clearly, the law provides extensive legal protection and power under both state and federal statutes. Unfortunately, it would appear that only a concerned and active citizenry, with the courage of their convictions could bring to bear the laws created for our welfare. Only by action can we force the Railroads to discontinue their use of unnecessary and noise-polluting horns.

A local group called HORN (Households Opposed To Railroad Noise) has sent letters to BNSF and Richmond Pacific Railroads in an attempt to get the railroads to voluntarily mitigate the obnoxious horn blowing. Sadly, the Railroads have once again chosen to ignore the will of the people and continue to blow their horns twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, even in the early morning hours when the streets are essentially deserted.

I can understand the need for horn blowing at a crossing where trains travel at 70-80 miles per hour. Around here, the fastest that the trains travel is somewhat less than 10 miles per hour. Safety at many of the crossings is ensured by automatic crossing gates, flashing lights, and bells. To justify the blowing of the horns at these well-guarded crossings is necessary would appear to be an oxymoron.
Now seems to be time for action. The demands of a patient and understanding public can no longer be ignored. The weapons to fight this battle are quite compelling. HORN asks you to lend your support to help launch what will no doubt be a heated and challenging David and Goliath encounter. Please let us know if you are willing to pursue this matter (with a like-minded small group of people) perhaps beginning in small claims court. The amount of time it would take would be minimal and the cost of filing a claim would be less than $50.00. If you are interested, please email either Louis Hagler at or me at my email address, which is
Collectively, we can make a difference. We need the courage and perseverance to put and end to the unnecessary noise pollution from the train horns. In so doing, we can regain the quality of life and health that we are entitled to.HornLogo2AA.jpg

Posted by fredarm at March 15, 2005 10:19 AM