Trains ordered to blow horns in Cedar Park ‘quiet zones’

CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — The Federal Railroad Administration has ordered trains running through Cedar Park to immediately start blowing their horns, even in “quiet zones.”  For years, residential areas in Cedar Park have had the quiet areas alongside the Capital Metro Railroad, as approved by the FRA nearly seven years ago. But on Thursday, city officials say they started getting calls from upset residents.

“The sound of train horns at all hours of the day and night certainly has a negative impact on residents living in the Quest Village and Town Center neighborhoods,” Jennie Huerta, City of Cedar Park Media and Communications Manager, said in a release.

“They have counted on these crossing being quiet for many years,” Huerta said. “And what is frustrating for City staff is that we went through all of the proper procedures. We have not made any changes to these crossings and there have been no changes in the federal regulations since then, so either they made a mistake when they approved them, or they’re interpreting their own rules differently now.”

KXAN News spoke with dozens of Cedar Park residents Saturday afternoon. Some of their houses are located right behind the railroad tracks with their backyard just steps away. But none of them seemed to mind the noise.

New Hope resident Michael Kersgard has lived in the area for five years. “I don’t understand quiet zone. I’ve never heard that before,” said Kersgard.

He says he bought this house knowing there was a train track behind him. “It was disclosed and it’s obvious. I can see it. When I heard the train horns sound the other day, I just assumed it was a safety factor.”

Kersgard said his cousin was killed several years ago when he tried to cross the tracks before a train could pass.

“He thought he could beat the train on a motorcycle, and he didn’t. He got killed. So that’s why I would much prefer some loud, warning noise than for something like that to happen again. And as far as a quiet zone or noise factor, it’s so minor– a five or 10 second horn blowing three to four times a day is nothing. And I’m here all day every day because im retired!”

Even if the noise doesn’t bother residents, city council will still explore options on how to stop the trains from sounding their horns.

According to a Capital Metro spokesperson, the FRA recently changed compliance requirements — ever since the line has been operational, CapMero has been in compliance — they were notified this past week of their non-compliance.

CapMetro plans on working with Cedar Park and Leander to get the line into compliance with FRA regulations.

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