What is the Status of Quiet Zones at Train Crossings?

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Serious efforts have been made to pursue implementation along seven crossings in Provo (200 W, 500 W, 700 W, 900 W, 820 North, 1680 North & 2000 North).  The primary impetus has been construction of the UTA Frontrunner project and associated at-grade crossing improvements.  All UTA crossings (including Union Pacific tracks, where they are contiguous) are being upgraded to quiet zone standards at no cost to the City.  In Provo, the UP tracks are also being upgraded along 600 S (200 W – 900 W).  The other three UP crossings in northwest Provo are not contiguous, and will not be upgraded as part of the Frontrunner project.  We have begun the design for the required improvements, but the critical path for these three crossings is now funding (~$500,000/crossing, or a total of $1.5 Million).  This is currently an unfunded project in the CIP budget.

Full implementation of a “quiet zone” is essentially a 3-step process administered by the Federal Railroad Administration:
1 – Filing of a Notice of Intent to implement a “quiet zone”.
2 – Completion and certification of the required crossing upgrade improvements.
3 – Filing of a Notice to Establish the “quiet zone”.

The first two steps have now been completed for the four downtown crossings (200 W – 900 W).  We are proceeding to prepare and file the Notice to Establish.  We expect to have that filed sometime in October, after which there is a 21-day period for the railroad operators to modify procedures to operate under the “quiet zone” regulation.  Therefore, barring any complications, we expect “quiet zone” implementation at those four crossings sometime in November.

It is important to note two things.  One, this “quiet zone” will do very little to reduce train noise associated with the switching yard operations (largely east of University Ave and south of 600 South).  Second, under “quiet zone” regulations, train engineers are permitted, even required, to sound the horn when a potential hazard is noted.  In an urbanizing community like Provo, with an unfenced railroad right-of-way; pedestrians, dogs and such will continue to be a cause of horn noise.  Under the “quiet zone”, the noise will be significantly reduced, but not completely eliminated.  
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  1. Why, Mr. Mayor, are the train horns still sounding? I live near the tracks, and continue to hear regularly scheduled horns (which are clearly not hazard-induced horns). Having become fed up with the seeming paradox between train horns and signs that say “Caution: Train Horn Does Not Sound”, I took my concerns to Union Pacific, who confirmed that the Quiet Zones have yet to be established. Reports in the Daily Herald and the Provo City website all said Spring of 2010. You wrote this in October 2010. It’s now February 2011, and still the Quiet Zones are a myth. Who needs the motivation, Provo City or Union Pacific??

  2. Anonymous

    I am completely frazzled by the train horns in this community and have been hoping that the promise of a Quiet Zone would be implemented. The last thing we heard was that it was anticipated the seven crossings would be completed by November, 2010. It’s 2:15 a.m. on February 21, 2011 and I’m still being kept awake by the trains. Please, let us know what the hold up is! Give us something solid to believe in and hope that we’ll one day SOON be able to sleep through the night.

  3. Seriously! What is the deal? I am used to the white noise of airplanes from living in Tucson and so it didn’t take much effort to transition to the trains when I moved to Provo almost 6 years ago. That past year it seems the blaring of the trains has become more and more frequent. It’s getting ridiculous. When it’s waking up your children and odd hours of the night things have got to change! We have lived in this condo for 3 years now and this is the absolute worst it has ever been. There is rarely a night that someone isn’t awake at 2 or 3 or 4 am. What’s the progress Mayor?

  4. Anonymous

    Mayor? Hello? Anyone there?

  5. Anonymous

    I’m so glad our mayor has this site where he can respond to citizen concerns!

  6. Lorna

    It’s now 2014, and the trains blare at all hours of the day and night for several minutes while approaching and leaving the 820 North crossing, making intense noise for at least a full mile stretch, so quiet zones appear to be a complete myth. This sound can be heard quite easily over telephone lines when my windows are closed. I live two blocks away from the tracks.

    Also, the freeway noise used to be unnoticeable before the new construction. Now, however, it is about ten times as loud as the river across the street and makes it sound like my house is in the middle of intense traffic at all hours. Is there no hope of getting effective sound barriers put in North of the Center Street exit?

    1. John

      Lorna – I’m going to have someone contact you who may be able to help.

      -John

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