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Making trains quieter in Cincinnati

Provided from City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati officials are studying a plan to make it quieter for some residents who live in neighborhoods with a lot of train traffic.

Train engineers are required to blow their horns one-quarter mile before each roadway crossing. 

It’s the same pattern each time, two long blasts, followed by a short and then another long one. 

Since sound travels, some residents hear it a lot especially when there are several crossings located close together. 

Cincinnati has 30 roadway-railroad crossings.  The city’s studying 11 of those on what’s called the CSX Toledo subdivision that runs through Carthage and Hartwell. 

The goal is to perhaps create a quiet zone to cut down on the noise during the overnight hours or maybe even all day long. 

But drivers still have to know a train is approaching. 

Reggie Victor with the city’s Transportation and Engineering Department said one method is to essentially keep vehicles from crossing the tracks.

“Four quadrant gates means there are four gates that come down so the cars cannot drive around the gates, that’s the added safety,” Victor said.  “So if the trains not going to blow its horn, you have to make sure the car is not going to drive in front of the tracks.”

The four quad gates cost about a $500,000 per crossing. 

Another way to control traffic is a median barrier, with a price tag of anywhere from $14,000 to $60,000.  It would prevent people from driving around the two-gates already at some crossings.  But that alternative has been ruled out in Cincinnati because of the narrow streets. 

Officials can also mount horns at roadway crossing that are not as loud as the ones on the trains.  Those cost about $60,000. 

Officials will continue studying the options and plan to have a final report this fall. 

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls suggested they meet with the communities.

“Go to Hartwell and go to Carthage and at least update them on what’s happening plus also clarify any questions that they might have or concerns they might have,” Qualls said.

Officials also have something else to consider. 

Quiet zones can potentially create more danger for pedestrians since people often trespass on railroad property.  


 Link to city PowerPoint presentation