Provo hoping to eliminate train horns


The loud sound of train horns in Provo could soon stop. The City of Lehi is spearheading an application that will make quiet zones that will reach Provo.

Utah already has five quiet zones in place in Salt Lake, Midvale, West Jordan, Pleasant View and Woods Cross.

Trax trains won’t be quite as loud in the coming months to reduce noise for Provo neighborhoods. Courtesy of UTA

At every intersection trains come to, they are required to sound the horn as a warning to other commuters that they are approaching. While the sound is irritating for motorists, residents in the surrounding neighborhoods hear it most often. Gerry Carpenter, Utah Transit Authority spokesman said when the trains come to Provo, the horns will blare up to 80 times a day.

While the noise is unpleasant, Carpenter said it is “for safety purposes.”

“In order to qualify for a quiet zone, a stretch of railroad track must have improvements made to the railroad crossings to bring the crossings to an equivalent or better level of safety than that which existed prior to the application for quiet zone status,” Carpenter said.

“In other words, if you take away the horns, you have to replace them with other safety measures that take their place.  As part of the FrontRunner project, UTA upgraded all railroad crossings from Salt Lake City to Provo to include gates, bells and flashing lights.  Raised cement medians were also installed in roadways to prevent motorists from going around the crossing gates when they are in the down position.”

UTA has also been working hard to add special measures to these new Trax stations.

“UTA also added supplemental pedestrian treatments to all crossings to slow pedestrian/bike traffic and encourage pedestrians or cyclists to look both ways prior to crossing the track,” Carpenter said. “These safety improvements have enabled the cities along the line to work together for ‘quiet zone’ status.”

Provo resident Colby Goettel has lived through the endless hours of trains honking.

“My family lived 100 meters from the train crossing,” Goettel said. “The trains were required to honk their horns before crossing — even in the middle of the night. This was only a problem for the first few nights; after that, the body adjusts.”

Although he adjusted, Goettel said, “If proper precautions are being taken, like barriers or lights, then it is redundant to require trains to honk before proceeding through an intersection.”

Lisa Rowley drives around Provo constantly and believes the safety precautions used to counter the non-use of the horns cancel out the need to honk. “If there are rails and lights, then they don’t need to honk,” Rowley said.

Rowley said she likes the sound of a train’s horn but admits it gets annoying fast.

While residents and motorists alike would like the quiet zones to be put in place as quickly as possible, “the timing is at the discretion of the Federal Railroad Administration,” Carpenter said.

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