'Quiet Zone' In The Works For Trains In Downtown OKC

Thursday, August 8th 2013, 5:53 pm
By: News 9

For several years, people who live and work in downtown Oklahoma City have been pushing for a "quiet zone," a way to escape the constant blaring of train horns. Now the funding is finally in place to make that happen.

If you've ever taken a moment to go downtown and grab a bite to eat, or just take a walk, it's hard to ignore the sound of train horns. For the last five years the city has been working on a plan to improve that.

Forget trying to have a full conversation outside along 9th street, it'll probably eventually just be drowned out by blaring horns from a passing train.

"We've gotten used to it. I mean the train shakes the house, the horn, babies are crying on the porch," said downtown business owner and resident, Audrey Falk.

Falk owns Shop Good on 9th St., literally just steps away from the tracks. She, her husband, and 3-year-old son also live upstairs.

"People think we're crazy, but downtown Oklahoma City has a lot going on," said Falk.

But, she says it's hard to get use to daily 3 a.m. wake up calls from BNSF.

"We have quite a few trains through there on a daily basis, so it does become annoying," said Jim Lewellyn, Program Manager for OKC Public Works Dept.  

Right now, BNSF train conductors are required to sound their horns at least 30 seconds before they approach a crossing. So, that pretty much means with the distance between at least a dozen crossings, the horn is almost continuous through downtown.

"The horns are just obnoxiously loud," said Falk.

But, that's about to change. Once about $3.9 million worth of improvements are made to the crossings, conductors will only be required to sound their horns at Wilshire on the north, and at 25th to the south. In between will be a "sealed safety corridor," otherwise known, as a quiet zone.

"We're really hoping that we'll get more new neighbors here soon because of the quiet zone," said Falk.

A number of safety upgrades will be made to crossing signals and crossing arms. A downtown OKC quiet zone should become a reality by early 2015.