Train horns silent in Marana - CBS46 News

Train horns silent in Marana

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Marana established "quiet zones', meaning train horns are silent unless there's an emergency on the track. Marana established "quiet zones', meaning train horns are silent unless there's an emergency on the track.
MARANA, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

At 500 feet, about the length of two football fields, a train horn is still an ear piercing 90 decibels.

But in Marana, there are no train horns.

Railroad signs on both sides of railroad crossing warn motorists there will be no horn warning as a train approaches.

Last February the Town Council voted 4-3, to establish "quiet zones."

That means train horns are silent unless there's an emergency on the track.

"I love the fact there are no train whistles," says Kelly Edmunds, whose home in the San Lucas neighborhood is just a stone's throw from the tracks.

She's just the person the council had in mind when it passed the ordinance.

"We did it as a quality of life issue for our residents," said Keith Brann, the town's chief engineer. "We decided we wanted to give our residents a break."

But the fact the vote was a narrow one shows there is some concern about quality of life over safety.

A Union Pacific spokesman said the railroad does not support the quiet zones, but said it complies with federal law which allows them.

"Union Pacific believes quiet zones compromise the safety of railroad employees, customers and the general public."

While not providing figures, Union Pacific said, "establishing quiet zones not only creates a public safety risk but also a potential cost burden to taxpayers."

But Marana, so far, has not had any bad episodes.

"We've had no major accidents or any accidents since we've implemented the quiet zones," Brann said.

Any community which is granted permission to install quiet zones must prove to federal officials it is not putting its residents at risk.

That means certain criteria, like supplemental safety measures, need to be met.

Those may include, which Marana has, four quadrant gate systems and medians.

The four quadrant system closes the gates entirely so that there is no space for cars to go around the barricades.

The medians are a supplemental security system so that cars can't cross lanes.

"We work with Union Pacific from time to time on railroad enforcement and will have officers ride on trains from time to time," Brann said.

The price tag, according to Union Pacific, can be quite high.

It estimates a four quadrant gate will cost between $300,000 to $500,000.

That cost has prohibited the city of Tucson was implementing quiet zones. That, and safety issues.

While Tucson has discussed the idea, no decision has been made yet.

One reason Marana made the decision to move forward is because of the increased number of trains expected in the near future.

Union Pacific is double tracking its railroad lines through Tucson and "we'll see an increase year to year," Brann said.

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