Train noise troubles Raleigh residents

September 6, 2013 10:21:33 AM PDT
Living in the heart of downtown Raleigh has its perks, but it also comes with a price - putting up with the sounds of blaring train horns at all hours of the night and day.

Trains come through railroad crossings downtown several times in a 24-hour period. With apartments and condos so close to the tracks, many residents are annoyed at the noise.

Robin Fitzgerald is an athletic trainer who works and lives downtown. She said she hears the sound of trains running through Raleigh all day and night.

"It's often and it's disturbing, and people tell me I'll get used to and I'm waiting for that," Fitzgerald said.

During the day, she said it's not a big deal, but it's a much different story overnight.

"There's a train that runs at 10:20, 11-something, 1:30; there's one that typically comes at 4 and again at 6," Fitzgerald said.

She's not the only one complaining. Cindy Golden shot video from her balcony downtown of the noise at night.

The noise and complaints prompted the city to conduct a study on the feasibility of implementing quiet zones at seven different downtown crossings. The group Downtown Living Advocates recently published an article summing up the results of the study, pointing out that the cost is a major hurdle.

Officials said quiet zones would cost anywhere from $1.5 to 3.5 million. Making an area a quiet zone means putting up additional gates or arms to completely block motorists from crossing the tracks when a train is coming. Without that, trains must legally blow their horns at least 15 seconds before approaching a public crossing.

Another obstacle is the plans for a high-speed rail that would travel through Raleigh.

"The state of North Carolina and the federal rail folks are still in discussions, and there are still plans to put in a high speed rail lines between Charlotte and D.C., coming right though Raleigh," said Transportation Operations Manager Mike Kennon. "When that comes through, the crossings in downtown are going to be grade separated, so do we go in and put in all this expensive equipment now when it could become obsolete when the high speed rail comes through?"

Until that happens, downtown residents are forced to deal with the noise.

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