CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — Train horns are once again silent at two railroad crossings in Cedar Park after the Federal Railroad Administration revoked the city’s quiet zones. The FRA approves quiet zones and allows railroad operators to forgo sounding their horns at a railroad crossing, except in the case of an emergency. The quiet zones have been operating safely in the Cedar Park area since the FRA approved them back in 2009. In March, the administration found problems at three crossings and ordered the trains to start sounding their horns immediately.
Since then, Cedar Park city leaders and officials with Capital Metro have been working on temporary fixes. The curb at the Williamson County Annex building off Discovery Boulevard has been redesigned to make it 60 feet away from the tracks, instead of 59 feet. The distance of the driveway is a safety issue for cars coming and going into that driveway so close to the tracks, so 60 feet is the recommended allowance.
And the speed limit on New Hope Drive has been lowered to 40 mph — with posted signs — in order to temporarily reinstate the quiet zones in those areas. As for the crossing at FM 1431, the horns are still sounding there day and night because the curb is traversable, and the FRA says it needs to be a nontraversable curb raised above the road near the tracks.
Neighbors living near the tracks understand the city is doing what it can, but the horns still make for a rude awakening.
“It’s hard because we have a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old, and parents don’t get a lot of sleep. So we really need our sleep, and when they are being woken up because of the train and to this sound we’ve never heard before, it’s frustrating,” said Tori Simons. “It’s just really loud, and we can hear it inside the house with the TV on. It’s at night. I hear it at 1:30 in the morning, 6:30 in the morning; it’s a lot.”
At Thursday’s Cedar Park City Council meeting, leaders will be looking at what the next step is and updating council members — as well as the community — on the changes being made in the area.
“The next issue is figuring out how to pay for it because this is an expensive undertaking,” said Jennie Huerta, Cedar Park media and communications manager. “We are trying our best to give some relief to the residents and neighbors in this area.”
The city says the permanent changes could cost nearly $600,000, but they are looking to file a waiver with the FRA to get all of the quiet zones reinstated.