Let’s quiet those trains down

By Peter R. Laylin | Jul 02, 2013


Many of us here in Edmonds, especially those living in the Edmonds “bowl”, have long wished to be rid of the noise created by the horns sounded by trains on the BNSF railroad tracks.

And we are keenly aware of the likelihood of more trains, and more noise, in the months and years to come. We know that other communities have managed to create “quiet zones” where trains no longer sound their horns except in emergencies.

The creation of such a zone in Edmonds would bring many benefits, including an increase in property values and a marked improvement in our quality of life.

Approximately five years ago our city government undertook a study of train horn quiet zones, including the hiring of consultants to determine the feasibility of establishing such a zone here.

However, following the financial meltdown in 2008 no further work has been done on the issue, and attempts to raise it since then have been met with the response that no money is available for the project.

We believe that we have a solution to this problem. Starting in 2009, Washington State law has provided for the use of a Local Improvement District (LID) to fund projects, including train horn quiet zones.

A LID is a mechanism by which those properties that will most benefit by the creation of a quiet zone will pay for the project through small annual assessments, typically over a 20-year period. There is therefore no need to find room in the city budget for the project.

We know that this Local Improvement District process works.  Just this past May, the city of East Vancouver, Washington adopted a LID and will create train horn quiet zones for its three at-grade train crossings.  Their LID establishes three zones of properties adjacent to the train tracks, the cost to individual owners ranging from $177 per year to $53 per year, depending on the distance of the property from the tracks.

Since there are more properties in Edmonds that are affected by train noise and would benefit from the creation of a quiet zone, we anticipate that individual costs would be less than those assessed in the East Vancouver LID.

A group of citizens in Edmonds is working on this matter. We have been in discussions with city officials to try to persuade the city to establish a Local Improvement District to create train horn quiet zones at the Edmonds at-grade crossings.

We encourage residents of Edmonds, and especially those living in the “bowl”, to support our efforts and to recommend to friends, neighbors, and city officials that we establish a LID and abolish the train horn noise that so intrudes on the peace of our lovely city.


Peter R. Laylin

Train Horn Noise Advisory Committee


Comments (1)
Posted by: john dolan | Jul 04, 2013 12:01

Yes. Some of them sound purposely excessive.

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