Not every city relies on whistles

January 21, 2013 

Yet another letter regarding train horns. Our home is about two miles from the M&ET tracks. Through our double-paned windows, I can hear those train horns quite clearly, and, by listening closely at night, those of the UP and BNSF trains as well — even though their closest point to our house is 2½ and over 3 miles away.

I assume train horn decibel levels are set by a federal agency, and nothing can be done to change them.

Last summer, during our visit to Duluth, Minn., my wife and I noticed a possible solution. Duluth is a BNSF terminus where hundreds of freight cars containing iron ore pellets are loaded daily onto freighters that ply the Great Lakes. Two sets of spur tracks with low daily rail traffic span the city.

Crossings at these tracks are marked with signs reading, "Horns do not operate at crossing." And they don't. Literate motorists read them and look both ways. Each crossing has flashing lights and automatic arms that lower as a train approaches.

Why can't this system be used in Modesto at the majority of M&ET crossings?



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