Norman train tracks may become quiet zone

Thursday, August 28th 2008, 7:31 pm
By: News 9

By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

NORMAN, Okla. -- The city of Norman is trying to make railroad crossing around town into quiet zones to cut down on train whistle noise. 

Five miles of train track run through Norman, running past 17 at-grade, or road-level crossings. Close to 40 trains come through Norman every day and when they're crossing places like Constitution Street, it gets awfully loud.

The noise can't be helped. The law requires the engineer to sound the horn repeatedly at at-grade crossings, but it can be an annoyance for those who live nearby.

"I've never seen so many trains coming by and they're really loud, because they are too noisy. When you've living next door to the train it annoys you a lot," said OU student Julia Specht.

Scott Thompson, an OU student who lives near a crossing, agreed the noise is a problem.

"You get used to it after a while, but it is really loud if you're out on the porch trying to have a conversation or something," Thompson said.

Help is on the way. Crews are renovating the crossing at Constitution Street so it will qualify as a "quiet zone."

"A quiet zone is really an agreement between the city and the railroad company for them to stop blowing the horn on the train as they come through the city," said Norman Public Works Director Shawn O'Leary. "In order to do that, we have to make additional improvements to our crossings."

To make sure drivers can't cross lanes to get around the barricade arms, the center median is being extended toward the tracks and raised to eight inches in height.

In the future Norman would like to have quiet zones around campus and downtown.

"This is the first time I've heard about it. I don't know. I guess it's a pretty good idea," said OU student Maegan Robison.

Before the Constitution Street quiet zone can be put into action, the city must build a median on the other side of the tracks.