(WSVN) - By now you have heard of the Brightline trains, a high-speed train running from West Palm Beach to Miami — along the way, blasting their horn to let drivers know they are on the way. The problem with that: residents who have to hear the horn, hour after hour, day after day. Can they stop those horn blasts? It’s why one woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
When you were a kid, trains were cute, fun.
And then you grew up.
Nancy Stabinski: “It’s a really offensive, loud noise. It’s really disruptive.”
A few months ago, Nancy bought a house in North Dade. One of the reasons? There was not much noise.
Nancy Stabinski: “It’s a very quiet community, with only 29 homes.”
And then she heard it.
It’s Brightline, the passenger train that travels between West Palm Beach and Miami … early.
Nancy Stabinski: “It has woken me in the morning.”
Nancy Stabinski: “And it’s basically running every hour, back and forth.”
And with those horns to announce it’s racing down the track at 79 miles per hour — loudly.
Nancy Stabinski: “It lets out four blasts. It’s two long blasts, followed by a short blast, and then another long blast.”
The horn is to warn people to get out the way. After several didn’t and were killed, Nancy says, it seems Brightline’s horns got more annoying.
Nancy Stabinski: “I feel like the conductors are a little bit abusive of the horn, as a matter of fact, because I think they’re so worried about the potential of hitting someone.
Nancy doesn’t live that close to the tracks, about two and a half blocks away, and her house was built to block out loud noises,.
Nancy Stabinski: “I was really surprised that I can still hear the train, even with the impact windows.”
Nancy wants Brightline to lay off their horns.
Nancy Stabinski: “Maybe there is some hope that we can also have a quiet zone here.”
Some peace and quiet. A break from the loud horns.
Nancy Stabinski: “I probably would not have bought the house if I knew there was going to be a horn like that all day, throughout the day. I cannot be the only one who’s bothered by Brightline.”
Well, Howard, Nancy might not be the only one bothered by the noise, but are there any laws to stop a train from blowing a loud horn all day long?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Federal law requires that trains blow their horns when approaching any public crossing, and the feds require the horns to be a certain decibel and number of blasts. But the law also provides a way to avoid the horns, to create what are called quiet zones. To do that, the local governments have to pay to make the crossings safer to make up for not using the horn blasts. For example, more gates and lights at crossings.”
And that’s exactly what Broward and Miami-Dade are trying to do. The federal requirement to qualify as quiet zones is lengthy, requiring such things as replacing the two crossing gates with four.
Broward and Miami-Dade both hope to meet the qualifications to create quiet zones in most areas, including Nancy’s neighborhood, by the end of the year.
Nancy Stabinski: “I think it’s amazing news.”
Peace and quiet — morning, noon and night. Nancy can’t wait.
Nancy Stabinski: “Ultimately, there is going to be a quiet zone put in place, and that was the goal. That’s a good thing.”
Now, even if you are in a quiet zone, and most of Miami-Dade and Broward will be, you still may hear a horn once in a while. For example, if the engineer sees people near the track, he or she has to hit the horn. And what if the railroad crossings don’t go down to stop people? Let’s just hope that never happens.
A problem left you feeling railroaded? Ready to track down some help? Let us engineer a way through it. We don’t toot our horn, but we will try to conduct our way to a solution.
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