Denton Considers Installing Quiet Zones at Downtown Rail Crossings

The city of Denton will consider turning four downtown railroad crossings into “quiet zones.” The move comes after complaints about loud horns from freight trains, with sounds measuring as high as 110 decibels.

“We hear the train often,” said Dustin Sharpe, general manager of Zera Coffee. “It's really loud.”

Zera sits right next to the tracks. Sharpe says trains roll through 15 to 20 times a day while he’s at work. He says the horns are so loud you can hardly carry on a conversation.

“I've been noticing it more and more,” he said. “It hasn't grown on me. Actually, it's done the opposite."

Federal Railroad law requires trains to sound their horns as they approach a crossing, and while they travel through it. In Denton, those trains travel through neighborhoods with residences and businesses.

“That presents a quality of life issue with the noise from those trains,” said Mark Nelson, Denton director of transportation.

In response to noise complaints, the city of Denton is considering making four downtown rail crossings "quiet zones," eliminating horns, unless there's a safety hazard.

“The engineer always has the option to sound the horn, should there be any trespassing on the rail line,” said Nelson.

“I think it would be amazing,” said Sharpe. “We already have the guardrails, so the safety is there."

Creating quiet zones would require safety changes at crossings. The city of Denton already has nearly a million dollars to pay for them.

Union Pacific, which owns the tracks, would have to sign off on the plan. If that happens, railroad quiet zones could be in place at four downtown crossings by next summer.

For some, those changes would bring welcome relief, from the noise.

“I think Denton would get along fine without the horn,” said Sharpe. “It would be a welcome change for us, for sure."

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