Sunday, May 19

St. Lucie County residents ask commissioners to apply for train ‘quiet zones’

Some people who live near train tracks asked St. Lucie County commissioners at a meeting Tuesday night to apply for “quiet zones.”

The special designation from the U.S. Department of Transportation gives trains the option to use their horn while moving past a railroad crossing. People said the noise makes it difficult to enjoy time outside after Brightline started service to Orlando in September.

“Brightline is a nightmare with the horns,” said Jim Ray, who told council member he listed his house in response to the increase in horns.

Federal law requires train engineers to sound a horn at least 15 seconds in advance of all public crossings, according to the Department of Transportation. If the train is moving faster than 60 mph, then the horn will go off within a quarter-mile of the crossing.

Currently, “quiet zones” exist in various places in Palm Beach County, including West Palm Beach and Boynton Beach. People have previously complained about the lack of “quiet zones” in Martin County. But, emails WPTV received from a public records request show Martin County will wait a year then reevaluate if “quiet zones” are needed based on safety concerns.

Some commissioners mentioned safety concerns along with financial needs for crossings to apply for “quiet zones” while discussing the issue Tuesday night.

People have various concerns about the increase in horns. Some complained they couldn’t sleep while others like Patricia Leach said she is concerned about possible hearing loss from the volume.

“Ive been in my yard doing yard work and the trains have blown and physically hurt my ears and my head, Leach said. “…I’m not even the closest person to the tracks.”

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