Trains Tooting Horn Pains Neighbors

Residents near a railroad line don't expect to live a quiet life, but those in this Council Bluffs neighborhood are covering their ears more often these days.

When it comes to rail crossing safety, Union Pacific likes to toot its own horn, but some track-side neighbors at 16th Street and 6th Avenue say it’s getting too long and loud. “You get engineers coming through here who will just lay on that horn.”

One house next to the tracks is home to a day care. The day care owner and a neighbor say they come outside, but the kids are always covering their ears because it's so loud. “Very frustrating, it works against your nervous system.”

The neighbors live at the end of a street that's blocked off as a crossing, so they say engineers have no need to blow the horn there. Union Pacific says there's a good reason for the long horns.

“It's the train crew signaling for track members in the area, but they should be done with their work today,” said UP’s Mark Davis. “But if they have to come back and work it may increase again.”

The horns sound into the night. “There's no crossing arms in front of our house, so they don't need to blow it right here,” said resident Tanya Miller. “It's hurting the kid's ears our son hates it.”

“They may be noticing the beginning of signaling for crossings on either side of them,” said Davis. The tracks came before the houses, but homeowners say they won't keep quiet about train horns that pass them by.

The city of Council Bluffs can apply for a quiet zone designation, but that's been tried before and rejected a few years ago. One reason is that taxpayers would assume more liability for protecting crossings with crossing arms where train horns still sound a warning.

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