Think quiet train thoughts

By Eric Livingston | May 24, 2012

Little old Mukilteo got one.  Seattle is getting one as is Wenatchee.  Spokane Valley has one.  So does Washougal, White Salmon and Vancouver.  A total of 492 cities either have one or are getting one.

Why shouldn’t we, Edmonds, have one????

No, I’m not talking about the silly Five-Corners ‘Round-about’ or a dumb Walgreens store.  There are loads and loads of both easily found across the country.

What I am talking about, is a “Railroad Quiet Zone”.

A Quiet Zone is a railroad grade crossing at which trains are prohibited from sounding their horns in order to decrease the noise level for nearby residential communities. The train horns can be silenced only when other safety measures compensate for the absence of the horns.[1]

Edmonds should apply to the Federal Railroad Administration, (FRA), to establish a “Quiet Zone”.

There have been a fair number of opinions and letters to the editor of the Edmonds Beacon about “Coal Trains” and the environmental issues caused by them.

Those efforts to prevent coal trains passing through Edmonds and other cities are the efforts of Don Quixote charging at windmills.

However, one issue rarely mentioned is Noise Pollution.

A “Quiet Zone” is, absolutely, the one thing which the City of Edmonds can do that would end that level of noise pollution and benefit the local citizenry.

According to the information I’ve read regarding Quiet Zones, I’m fairly certain that Edmonds qualifies to submit an application.

Without question, Edmonds should apply to the Federal Railroad Administration to have a “Quiet Zone”.

In the City of Edmonds’ Comprehensive Plan adopted December, 2009 there is a section dealing with Noise Pollution on pages 84 - 85.  There are two parts to this section.  The “B” part contains the following statement:     B 8.  It is the policy of the city (City of Edmonds –ed.) to minimize noise created by the railroad.

After all the surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, open houses and charrettes – not to mention the consultants – for which the City has spent both time and taxpayer dollars in an all-out effort to figure out what should be done to improve Our Fair City; one would think that our political leaders would follow their own policy.

Apparently, one would be wrong.

Now, for a moment, think about the total number of trains passing through Edmonds and not just the coal trains, but all trains, including freight and passenger.  If my math is correct, roughly 10,000 to 12,000 trains pass through Edmonds annually!

That is a lot of trains blowing their horns at each of the two crossings in town.  That is serious noise pollution.  It affects not only us but the wild life in the Marsh.

Luckily, it is pollution that can be stopped and not waste any time charging at windmills.

In the interest of full disclosure, Edmonds would have to pay the costs of obtaining the permission to have a Quiet Zone.

But think about this, the costs would be far less than the costs of a silly ‘Round-about’ at Five Corners and far more beneficial than a dumb Walgreens.  It’s a no-brainer.

If the citizenry of Edmonds expressed ‘Quiet Train Thoughts’ to the City’s elected officials we should find ourselves feeling better and sleeping better.

So, and not to put too fine a point on it, Edmonds really needs to apply to the FRA and get a “Quiet Zone”.

Heck, our neighbors to the north had ’Quiet Train Thoughts’ and guess what, little ‘ol Mukilteo got a “Quiet Zone”[2].


Eric Livingston



Comments (1)
Posted by: Quiet Zones Madison | Jun 20, 2012 10:03

Real progress would be to find a way for our booming train industry to co-exist peacefully in modern-day residential neighborhoods. Our population has grown exponentially since the railroads first arrived, and we can’t expect everyone to live out on a secluded farm. Damage is being done across the country by late-night train whistles/horns in residential areas. Did you know that people with chronic sleep disruptions have 4 times higher risk of stroke? More and more trains are being moved to late-night hours to reduce daytime traffic delays for cars. We desperately need to upgrade our railroad crossings in residential areas so that they qualify for “quiet zone” status. This would be progress. Here is where you can get updates on what Madison, Wisconsin is doing to create railroad quiet zones: Follow us on Twitter:!/quietzoneswi  Like us on Facebook:

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