Quiet zone proposal quashed

Huron city council collectively derailed a proposal calling to quiet trains chugging through the downtown area.
Andy Ouriel
Mar 12, 2014
Council members recently voted 6-1 against spending about $16,000 in local taxpayer funds so an outside consultant could complete two tasks:

•Begin establishing quiet zones where trains speed by, eliminating noisy horns blaring in business districts and neighborhoods.

•Make areas safer where trains rumble over streets.

Six elected officials trumped councilman Brad Hartung’s lone supporting vote for a study.

Six dissenting votes largely occurred because a preliminary plan for safety upgrades would’ve been tied to future costs, Huron city manager Andy White said.

"They would’ve delivered us a road map for more expenditures,” White said. “Some improvements at just one intersection totaled $500,000. We don’t have the capacity internally to do this with all the other work going on in our city”

Funding could’ve helped quiet down trains in five areas, including where trains cross Berlin, River and Rye Beach roads along with Main and Williams streets.

Before implementing a quiet zone, certain safety upgrades must occur at specific intersections.

Among the problems existing in some areas: crossing gates don’t extend the entire roadway’s width.

“I just felt it was something that we needed to look at” Hartung said.

Comments

mcddcm

"mcdcm, while you are correct about regulations and the need for safety, you're not paying attention to the conversation."

I am paying attention. I am responding to the people who are saying there is no need for horns, etc. The link I put in was to show these people what they can do if they want to silence the horns, rather than complain here and make false statements about the railroad and the railroad employees. All statements with NO facts is what I have mostly read in these comments. People are just mad that Huron won't spend the money for a quiet zone.
Please, you need to pay attention! The horns are there for a reason, whether it was earlier today or 50 years ago. I'd provide links, but you are the one that should do some research if this bothers you so much.

You again proved yourself ignorant by your statement: "than most railroads teetering on the edge of insolvency despite massive government subsidies." Railroads are doing great, that is completely FALSE. Good think railroads did not get into the airline business. Look it up!! Amtrak is the "railroad" that you are thinking of with subsidies. They are like the airlines - subsidized. But NOT the freight railroads, whose tracks are used by Amtrak. Please, DO SOME HOMEWORK first.

Darwin's choice

Neurotic much?

There is a statement for you.

Facts and proof for you are your above posts. And, you're a moron.

mcddcm

Name calling makes you look bad. And I'd put my ACT up against yours any day! You still have not posted anything factual. I put up the only facts via the link that tells you how to try to get a quiet zone. All the other comments are opinions with zero fact base, especially your comments. I also asked for people to put up some facts on horn blowing, safety, railroad profitability, etc. Guess what? No replys.

Nemesis

They all receive huge subsidies in the form of right of way grants, subsidized retirement for their employees, etc. They are not "doing great" - railroads used to be the single most powerful industry in the nation, and now they're an also ran.

As for the reason for the horns, if it was 50 years ago, that doesn't make it applicable to day. The statements about railroad employees are not false, either. There are some who use horn blasts 2-3 times as long as required by law, so that the horn sounds almost continuously as the train passes through Huron.

If railroads were so prescient, why'd they get bitten so many times in union negotiations defining a full day's work in miles, thinking trains would never get any faster?

Finally, you're bereft of logic - if, as you insinuate, the tracks would run red with the blood of victims without the horns, then it makes no sense to encourage people to implement a quiet zone. This indicates that your reasoning is based on whatever Big Brother says being gospel, because you would accept a quiet zone, which is only justified if government decree can change the risk of no horns.

mcddcm

Obviously, you have not done your homework and have no logic, just opinion. "They all receive huge subsidies in the form of right-of-way grants." That is FALSE. Prove it! Until I see SOMEONE here post some REAL data with multiple sources, I'm done. I'm in an industry that relys on rail transporation to provide raw materials. I know for a fact that railroads are NOT "an also ran." Stock market performance of railroads is also a good indicator. Ever heard of BNSF and Warren Buffet?
A quiet zone requires specifics to ensure that trains not blowing horns would not run "red".
You made yet another statement that horns aren't needed, but still have not given any legitimate (or any at all, for that matter) research to prove your statement.

Nemesis

Most of the railroad right of ways in this country resulted from land grants, which at one point included all the land for 10 miles out on either side of the tracks which they could sell to finance construction. When that wasn't enough, the government financed them. I bet a lot of businesses could do pretty well if the government outright gave them land on which to do business, AND offered them sweetheart eminent domain assistance as well. The government has also heavily subsidized their infrastructure improvements. Railroads are crony capitalism at its finest, just ask CSX and Florida:

http://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/hea...

Then there's the Heartland and Crescent Corridor projects, for which Norfolk Southern says public dollars are necessary. The federal government and several states are bankrolling $163 million of the Heartland Corridor's cost, including $22 million from Virginia.

But the foibles of the railroad companies including their loss of over half their tracks since 1980, are secondary. The real issue is whether or not we use common sense, or toadishly worship every regulatory utterance out of DC as if Moses brought it down from Sinai.

You've offered nothing to prove horns ARE needed. Just a fiat declaration by the government you hold as all knowing.

WHERE IS YOUR HOMEWORK?
How many pedestrians OR drivers have been killed by trains in the last 10 years? How many of those were truly accidents and not the result of the victims' own willful conduct?

Here's my homework - there have been two train fatalities in Huron in the last 5 years, BOTH SUICIDES. Please enlighten us on how the horns prevent suicides by train. This should be interesting.

Cars are far less predictable or detectable, audibly or visually, and the number of times pedestrians cross an automotive right of way each day dwarfs the number of times they cross railroad tracks. Why don't cars have to blast their horns endlessly?

The requirements for a quiet zone are largely meaningless, and essentially amount to local government FURTHER subsidizing the externalities of an already coddled industry. Vermilion has a quiet zone and there are far more opportunities for people to wander onto the tracks there than in Huron. They also have more grade crossings than Huron.

mcddcm

Land grants - yes, 100+ years ago. This was done to encourage the development of a transportation system for the USA. You are cherry-picking the $163M and $22M articles - very small amounts, and the exceptions, not the norm.
You and I subsidize the airlines, trucking industry, marine, etc.

Railroads traffic has been on the increase for at least past 25 years, with railroads building more trackage from THEIR capital. They continue to maintain their infrastructure with THEIR capital.

You need to read the comments above again. I responded to the original commments that said that horns are not needed, etc. I asked these people to prove they are not needed. Still no response. I am not doing the work, they made their opinion first.
"there have been two train fatalities in Huron in the last 5 years, BOTH SUICIDES. Please enlighten us on how the horns prevent suicides by train." Now that is very interesting. That's your homework on why horns are not needed? Wow. That's like saying, "Gee, I did not get in a car wreck on the way home this week, so I guess I don't need to wear my seatbelt." That's all I care to say.

Nemesis

Land grants - fine, if their business model is so sound, they should be able to pay for all those land grants. Even at 100 year old market rates, it would break them.

What was it that bankrupted GM? Ah yes, PENSIONS. Luck for the railroads all their employees pensions are nationalized.

Read the comments again yourself. You responded to comments about abusive use of the horns by Informed:

"The locomotive engineers are not playing with the horns, laying on the horns for no reason, trying to wake you up, etc. They are highly trained...."

Highly trained apparently doesn't make for consistency, because the length of the blasts varies WILDLY, so either some of them are going to long or some are going to short.

You also made a gross assumption in that opening remark:"The railroad was there long before your house was." I've been a guest in houses in this community built 9 years before the first common carrier railroad in the USA reached the Ohio river.

It's your contention that the horns are all that stand between us and a bloodbath, despite having less track access and fewer grade crossings than Vermilion, which has no horns and no fatalities in the last five years. Support it.

It remains that you have nakedly asserted the necessity of the horns and offered in support of this contention nothing more than "Big Brother said so."

mcddcm

You are really grasping at straws.

Sounds like you hate corporations like the railroads. I own stock in NS & UP, and they have made me LOTS of money. I guess you found out your statement, "They are not "doing great" - railroads used to be the single most powerful industry in the nation, and now they're an also ran." was wrong.

And you are only comparing the incidents in two small communities. You still haven't done any real research. There is a much larger world outside of this small part of North Central Ohio.

The people complaining chose to buy a house close to the tracks. The rail line WAS ALREADY there when they chose to buy the house. I am sure that the person complaining about the horn noise is not 120+ years old.

If horns were not needed, do you think the railroads would require their employees to use them? Do you really believe that the laws were put in place about horns are not necessary? It is costing them $ in many ways, but unfortunately, it is necessary. If not, they'd be the first to lobby to get the laws changed, because it would save railroads money to NOT have them. Once again, look beyond your tiny part of the world. Use good research and get back to me then.

Until then, please channel your efforts into working on that quiet zone, or move.

Nemesis

"Sounds like you hate corporations like the railroads."

Not at all. I'm a big fan of capitalism, just not crony capitalism. I have a problem with GM's bailout, but nothing makes me prouder to be an American than the way Ford saved themselves without corporate welfare. You've made money by investing in parallel with the government, as has Mr. Buffett who you mentioned.

"found out your statement, "They are not "doing great" - railroads used to be the single most powerful industry in the nation, and now they're an also ran." was wrong."

Not at all. The influence of railroads is a tiny fraction of what it once was when they were the only common carrier in the country. The railroads would have retained their status if they had the foresight to see that their business was transport, not just rail transport.

"And you are only comparing the incidents in two small communities."

Two very similar communities, on the same rail line. It's called controlling the variables to get a meaningful comparison of the variables of interest.

"The people complaining chose to buy a house close to the tracks."

That's not what you said - you said before the HOUSE was there.

"If horns were not needed, do you think the railroads would require their employees to use them? "

First of all, it's not the railroads, it's the government. Are you prepared to make explicit your implicit claim that the government NEVER mandates anything that's unneeded, or ridiculous?

"Do you really believe that the laws were put in place about horns are not necessary? "

Do you really believe all government regulations are necessary? Do you think it's necessary to outlaw children's bicycles to prevent children from removing the valve cores from the tires, melting them down to extract the lead from the brass, and eating it?

In answer to your question, yes. Given modern gates with lights and audible warnings, the forward lighting on locomotives, and other improvements, sounding horns at GATED crossings is superfluous. No one is going to be hit by a train in Huron without their own willful stupidity contributing to the situation, and government impositions designed to protect people from themselves are counterproductive to a free and functional civilization.

For instance, one of the requirements for a quiet zone is that gates extend across the entire roadway, rather than to the center line. Do you honestly believe that there are people who absent mindedly, without forethought, go left of center, then execute a tight dogleg turn to get around and between the current gates, due to some lack of awareness that a horn blast will cure?

"It is costing them $ in many ways, but unfortunately, it is necessary."

Oh, please, DO entertain us by trying to explain how it costs the railroad extra to have the operator push a button several times. I'll make popcorn.

"If not, they'd be the first to lobby to get the laws changed, because it would save railroads money to NOT have them."

How would it save them money? Would the union make major concessions if the company slightly reduced the number of times the operators had to press the horn button? Or maybe you're contending that a few less blasts of the horn would amount to a fuel saving that could actually be measured. Didn't you say something about grasping at straws?

"Use good research and get back to me then."

Stop making wildly unrealistic claims, learn some basic logic, and get back to me then. Oh, and you have yet to offer one single shred of evidence for your assertion of the necessity of sounding the horns in Huron.

mcddcm

You continue to give tons of opinions WITHOUT any facts. Please provide links to actual facts, as I have been asking for a week. I would, but I don't have time to waste on you. You are too set in your opinions to change.
By the way, horns work off of air pressure, and those horns are expensive. By not requiring horns, you reduce the cost of the locomotive. Air compressors are very expensive to run, and the lower you use them, the less maintenance is required.

YOU need to do the research, if you want to show that horns are not needed in your precious community. All talk, no action. Complaining does nothing, but looking for answers, or at least understanding why horns are used, would be a good step for you and the other people complaining here.

You do realize that gates and lights do fail, right? There's another reason to use the horn. It's about safety, nothing more.

mcddcm

Here, I did some of your research for you. Happy reading.

They're not going to NOT blow the horn at all, because that experiment was tried in Florida and the accident rate doubled.

https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0104

The stats show that horns have kept people from dying, whether you like it or not.

Now, I am sure you will come back with another opinion about how this study was wrong, because, well, you said so. So, there are even more examples that I could paste in here for you, but it's not going to work, unless you have a mind that is open to reading facts that contradict your opinions.

Oh, and the railroads use horns to keep the trains moving and keep people from suing them. Think about it, an accident will stop the train for hours, and the trains around it. Then the lawyers get involved, costing the railroad huge $. So not only does the government require horns, but the railroads are for anything to keep their freight moving and the lawyers out of their pockets.

"Not at all. The influence of railroads is a tiny fraction of what it once was when they were the only common carrier in the country. " Got a source??

"Two very similar communities, on the same rail line. It's called controlling the variables to get a meaningful comparison of the variables of interest." No. Nice try, but still a failure. Try some real research.

"You've made money by investing in parallel with the government, as has Mr. Buffett who you mentioned." You still have not provided info on all the money the government is supposedly giving the railroads, other than a few VERY small token amounts, and the 125+ years ago land grants. You know there is no way we could have built the country without railroads AND won two World Wars? So those land grants 125+ years ago turned out pretty good, didn't they? And please tell me why I should support the airports and waterways if the 125+ year old land grants were so bad? Fact is, rail traffic and railroad profitability are both growing in the past 25 years - look it up! Tell me how much of their own capital did NS or other railroads spend on infrastructure, equipment, etc. over the past 25 years vs. ANY government funding?

Nemesis

Let's see, what are the facts from your link and how do your assertions measure up to them?

mcddcm "fact": "By the way, horns work off of air pressure, and those horns are expensive."

Reality: Your linked article cites a performance standard of 110 dB. Self contained air horns for external mount on high speed vehicles that meet and exceed that standard are readily available for less than $50. Guys who are starved for attention frequently install actual locomotive horns on their pickup trucks for less than the cost of filling them with fuel.

mcddcm "fact": "By not requiring horns, you reduce the cost of the locomotive."
mcddcm "fact": "They're not going to NOT blow the horn at all, because that experiment was tried in Florida and the accident rate doubled"

Reality: You're responding to a straw man of your own making. A FACT that seems to have escaped you is that NO ONE is advocating the elimination of horns OR their appropriate use. The issue here is the requirement to sound horns at GATED crossings within a populated municipality - AND NOTHING ELSE.

mcddcm "fact": "Air compressors are very expensive to run, "

Reality: I once spent the several months working closely with an engineer at GE whose prior posting had been with their locomotive division. Locomotives use compressed air in multiple applications, notably including braking. They run multiple compressors all the time.

Reality: Pre-rule quiet zones are automatically approved, merely for "horns not sounding on October 9, 1996 and December 18, 2003 because of state/local law or
community agreement with the railroads." Since you haven't objected to their existence, you've rendered your position one of blind adherance to arbitrary government fiat.

Reality: Your linked article also claims that modern locomotives have sequencers to sound the crossing warning consistently, but anyone who has spent any time in Huron can tell you they are not being used, as the signals given vary widely.

mcddcm "fact": "looking for answers, or at least understanding why horns are used, would be a good step for you and the other people complaining here."
Reality: Everyone here understands why they are used - because of government dictates. We also understand the historical reasons for those regulations, and for why they MAY still be relevant in some circumstances. Unlike you, we also grasp that government regulations are seldom entirely based on rational concerns.
mcddcm "fact": "The stats show that horns have kept people from dying, whether you like it or not."
Reality: correlation does not equal causality. I'm not going to criticize the study, only the conclusions YOU drew from it regarding a COMPLETELY different situation. Florida banned ALL horn use, as opposed to curtailing use under certain circumstances. Florida also has a preponderance of drivers who have passed the age where they should stop driving.

Your other fallacy is your mathematically illiterate perception of risk. Risk and "safety" are not boolean concepts; they are sliding values. If, as you say, the horn regulations are all about "safety" then, in a city like Huron, where the tracks traverse at least two miles of populated neighborhoods, and there are only 3 grade crossings, why do the regulations not call for constantly sounding the horn for the entire two miles? That would be emminently safer, since there is so much pedestrian access to the tracks not covered by the current regulations. Why aren't the horns sounded anytime there are occupied structures within 100 feet of the track? There's a LOT of track in Huron approachable on foot that's not within sight of a crossing gate or other warning device. Obviously, there are competing interests other than safety, or else why not have the horn blasting whenever the train is in motion?

These are among the many issues you refuse to address in your refusal to look beyond government decrees, and to contemplate any point not directly based on an appeal to government decrees or publications. It's sad that you don't trust your own mind to evaluate anything, and require everything to be rubberstamped by some purported authority, which you trust without questioning (else you would have dug deeper into the links in your article to see the arbitrary nature of the pre-rule quiet zone.)

"You do realize that gates and lights do fail, right? "

Less often than traffic lights - why doesn't the law require me to sound my horn at every intersection?

Finally, as to supporting airports and waterways, I never condemned the land grants to railroads. I simply pointed out that, despite all the breaks they've been given, the railroads' are a mere shadow of what they were in their heyday, when Vanderbilt and other rail barons enjoyed more power and influence than even the Wall Street Banksters do today. By any measure, the rail industry has severely declined from its days of controlling all transportation, and that decline has been because of their failure to see that transportation was diversifying - a FACT that is more than sufficient to negate your assertion that those running them are infallible. That's the problem, your entire argument consists of "the government and the railroads believe horns are necessary, and neither of them is EVER, EVER wrong." I guess that means that, when the actual rule was promulgated, that signaled a quantum shift in the very nature of the universe, otherwise how could they be infallible both before and after instituting the rule?

mcddcm

FACT: I skimmed your response and still find NO links to back-up anything you say. I quit reading closely right after you assume the air horns on diesel-electric locomotives are the same as you buy to put on your pick-up truck.

""You do realize that gates and lights do fail, right? "

Less often than traffic lights - why doesn't the law require me to sound my horn at every intersection"

Because when a traffic light fails, it either shows NOTHING or blinks yellow or red. When that happens, we all know that there is a problems. When a crossing gate fails, it may show nothing, which is the same as when no train is coming. Hope you can understand that?!??!

Case closed.

Nemesis

I assumed nothing - I KNOW individuals who have gone to the same supplier GE uses when manufacturing locomotives, and purchased the EXACT SAME UNITS, by model number, that GE does, and installed them on their pickup trucks, for the price I stated. That's why I said "actual locomotive horns." What, did you ASSUME that one needs some super special permission to obtain the actual parts used on a locomotive? Does basic economics exceed your understanding?

Now that I've demonstrated that your only attempt at response is a non-starter, maybe you should go back and read for comprehension what else you may have missed about your fallacies.

No, I didn't include any links - they aren't needed. Links are not facts, they are references. A link doesn't make a fact. I can list facts all day long without any links. Huron is in Ohio - there, I just listed one, without a single link. You haven't disputed any of the facts I've provided, so there is no need for any references.

I don't need links to dissect your poor logic. If you assert "if A, then B" then assert A and deny B, I don't need any links to the almighty internet to demonstrate your fallacy.

You have asserted that:

-Government regulations are always well founded.
-Sounding horns at crossings is necessary to avoid a bloodbath
-EXCEPT if the government grants a dispensation (quiet zone) then they aren't.

You went on to post a link that leads to other links, which, if followed, unequivocally state that quiet zones are arbitrarily granted based merely on a grandfather clause and local ordinances or agreements being in place at the time of the regulation's inception.

Given two communities that are very similar, on the same rail line, one where horns are sounded and one where they aren't, you refused to even attempt to provide a reason why the former had more fatalities than the latter.

I posted PLENTY of facts. I don't need links because neither you nor anyone else has disputed of the following facts:

-Vermilion has more crossings than Huron.
-Huron has had more fatalities than Vermilion.
-Horns are not sounded in Vermilion.
-Locally mandated quiet zones predating the FRA horn regulation are grandfathered in without the requirement for any other justification.
-Locomotives require compressors regardless of whether they have air horns.

You can't even manage to produce the necessary reading comprehension not to argue the straw man of complete horn elimination, both in your rhetoric and your vaunted links, even though a fourth grader could easily discern that all anyone is proposing is some degree of horn curtailment in a small densely populated town where all the crossings are gated.

When a crossing gate fails, it makes no difference to a competent driver, because a competent driver doesn't blindly trust the gate any more than a traffic light.

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