Construction to reduce Round Rock train noise set to start in November

Railroad crossings along McNeil Road, from CR 172 to Burnet Road, will become quiet zones. (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)
Railroad crossings along McNeil Road, from CR 172 to Burnet Road, will become quiet zones. (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Trains blowing horns can be heard throughout Round Rock, and there is finally a plan to make the area quieter. The city council approved a plan last year to create quiet zones in the city. They now know construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in November.

“I think I just need to find a happier place for me,” says Denise Mako.

Mako lives right behind railroad tracks off McNeil Road in Round Rock. She hears the train day and night. “To get it from a sound sleep, you kind of sit up in the bed and it’s like ‘ohhh.'”

At least 35 trains pass through Round Rock every day, sounding their horns at railroad crossings. Eventually the city will get some peace and quiet, by making crossings safer in place of a horn. The plan is to install four crossing arms, instead of the typical two arms, so cars won’t be able to bypass the crossing arms when they’re down, and trains won’t need to blare their horns.

“Late in the afternoon when there’s traffic and people want to get through and they try to go around. Hopefully with the new barriers on there it will be alright, it will be better,” explains Adolfo Vallejo, who lives right in front of the tracks.

Another safety upgrade will allow the red flashing lights at railroad crossings to trigger even sooner, before the train approaches the crossing.

The first phase of the project will run from County Road 172 to Burnet Road, and is expected to be done by early 2018. The second phase will run from Burnet Road to Red Bud Lane. The work is expected to cost Round Rock $3.1 million, which includes $1.6 million in federal grants. After work is done to create the quiet zones, train engineers can still blow their horn if they believe it is necessary.

The city of Hutto is also considering quiet zones. It’s currently reviewing a feasibility study.

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