Augusta Mayor Wants Discussion On Downtown Train Quiet Zone

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Augusta, GA (WJBF) –  It happens at all times of the day or night in Augusta, the train horn. Even if you don’t see a train, you hear it around here.

“I grew up in an area where you could hear the train everywhere. It was always disturbing. It wakes you up in the morning,” said Robetta McKenzie.

We caught up with the Mayor HArdie Davis outside the Augusta Municipal Building and, of course, in the distance we could hear a train horn. “Perfectly fitting. We can hear the train, right here, its part of life here,” we commented to MAyor Davis. “It is,” he added..

Trains blow their horns at intersections because they’re following Federal rules, but Mayor Davis thinks it’s time to start talking about quieting things by creating a quiet zone along the 6th Street tracks downtown, so the trains would pass without the blaring noise.

“The horn would not blow in whatever instance we choose. There are a series of options available to us, we could go with a lower decibel horn,” said Davis.

The Federal Railroad Administration says, “Localities desiring to establish a quiet zone are first required to mitigate the increased risk caused by the absence of a horn”. Other communities have found out that means the intersections in quiet zones need to have crossing gates and flashing lights, which are things not in place on 6th Street.

“Based on new technologies, we know it can be done without the gates. There are other restraints that are available in these types of zones,” said Davis.

The horns can be annoying, but they are sounded for safety.

“That’s a whole different story. If it’s going to be safe, I’d much rather settle for the noise rather then get somebody hurt,” said James Smith.

Augusta Commissioners are scheduled to hold their first discussion of the Mayor’s quiet zone proposal at their Tuesday meeting. Mayor Daivs says this will allow the city to engage experts in creating quiet zones, as well as the rail company. He says this is a conversation the city has needed for some time, now.

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