SACRAMENTO, CA - Hundreds of families in midtown Sacramento can now enjoy some peace and quiet thanks to a "No Train Horn" quiet zone that was just implemented.
Residents, the City of Sacramento and railroad authorities have finally agreed on a new 10-mile quiet zone that runs from 20th Street in Midtown Sacramento to Fruitridge Road, otherwise known as the Fresno Line.
For years, Kevin Wehr and other Midtown residents along C Street have been fighting to silence the piercingly loud train horns.
"I live a block and half from the train tracks," Wehr said. "It's just super loud. When those train horns go off, when they're going by, it's almost impossible to get any work done."
"We'd have guests over in our backyard and it would constantly just be this interruption in our conversation," another resident on C Street said.
"You'll hear train horns at 2 a.m. at this stop (20th and C) and at 28th and C as well," Midtown resident Julie Murphy said.
More than 40 trains pass the crossing on 20th and C streets each day. When the train horns sounded, residents said they could hear it 1/2 a mile away.
By federal law, train operators usually blow the horn when they go by a crossing where there might be vehicle traffic.
Train horns will no longer go off, unless there is someone or something obstructing the tracks. By adding more safety measures, such as new signs, signals and medians they were able to get around having to sound the horn.
Hundreds of families are impacted by the new quiet zone.
"It's the sound of silence. It's beautiful," Wehr said.
"We're going to have some measure of peace and quiet in a busy urban neighborhood," Murphy said.
"It's been nice so far!" said another man who lives just a few hundred feet from the tracks.
"It has just been heavenly ever since it stopped," said a C Street resident.
City staff said it took nearly five years to get the new quiet zone implemented. But residents said their fight has spanned nearly a decade.
"We're really pleased because I think the first time I went to a city council meeting on this issue was 10 years ago," Wehr said. "Finally, we have some action."
City Councilman Steve Hansen explained that it was a big collaborative effort involving many different entities including the railroad authorities, Public Utilities Commission and the City of Sacramento.
"We just needed to give it that little extra push and thankfully Union Pacific, city staff were right on it," Hansen said.
"This is all a significant effort. It takes many years. The requirements are extraordinary to prove that you have as safe of a crossing without the horns as you do with the horns," Sacramento Public Works Supervising Engineer Tim Mar said.
Mar said it's possible for residents and communities to work with the Federal Railroad Administration to try and qualify a route for a quiet zone.
The new quiet zone is along the main thoroughfare of the east west train tracks. Another quiet zone that runs from C Street to Meadowview Road has been in effect for four years.
By Suzanne Phan, email@example.com