Legislation to quiet rail zones

Waking up in the dark and hearing the screaming of the trains may be a thing of the past with the decision to put quiet zones in some of the busiest communities within Wyoming, including Cheyenne.

Dan Kline, systems planning & railroads supervisor of the Wyoming Department of Transportation, said train noise is a quality of life issue because in the past 8 years the number of trains that pass through communities has increased.

In 2009, a bill was created because of the concerns arising from train noises. Bills in previous years did not pass due to people not knowing what was involved or what was happening. In the 2009 bill a study was included to show the relative need for quiet zones by community.

Looking at which communities would benefit the most from quiet zones, “we selected the top 10 communities from the study,” Kline said.

Quiet zones designed specifically for engineers

These quiet zones are designed to tell train engineers that they are prohibited from using their horn in that specific zone. However, if the engineer decides he must use his horn, he is allowed that right. “It’s based off of the general code of operations,” Kline explained. “It is up to engineer discretion to use the horn if he sees fit to.”

Because it is determined by the engineer to use his horn, there still may be noise on the tracks despite the quiet zones. These quiet zones won’t “eliminate all noise” but will limit it.

Two quiet zones will be designated in Cheyenne. One at the Southwest Drive crossing, which will be under construction by summer, and 24th Street, through which was reportedly 13 trains a day pass.

The legislature appropriated $5 million for the projects throughout the state, but it is not expected all funding will be used.