Iowa LTAP has moved from CTRE to the Institute for Transportation
Update on train horn final rule
A wayside horn is a one-to-one replacement for a train horn. It is not required for a quiet zone.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a final rule in April that allows communities to establish quiet zones where train horns will remain silent. The rule went into effect June 24, 2005.
Several changes were made in the final rule from the interim rule:
- New quiet zones can be in effect 24 hours a day or just overnight from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
- The public authority must provide a written notice of its intent to create a new quiet zone or partial quiet zone. This notice goes to all railroads operating over the crossings and the Iowa DOT. Recipients of the notice then have 60 days to comment.
- The "public authority" is defined as only those public entities that are responsible for traffic control and law enforcement at public highway-rail grade crossings.
- Quiet zones are eligible for risk reduction credit for some pre-existing supplementary safety measures (SSMs) such as four-quadrant gate systems, gates with medians or channelization devices, one-way streets with gates, and permanent crossing closures. Note that surface-mounted tubular delineators were removed from this list in the final rule unless they're attached to longitudinal channelizers.
- Risk reduction credit is also provided for a new category of alternative safety measures that address engineering improvements other than SSMs. These may include improvements that address underlying geometric conditions such as sight distance.
FRA staff members Howard Gillespie and Bennie Howe, who presented a workshop on the final horn rule in September, suggest that as a community considers establishing a quiet zone, it should do the following:
- Make sure the community is behind the effort.
- Keep the railroads involved and informed.
- Weigh the safety concerns against the quiet and quality-of-life issues.
For more information
Gillespie and Howe recommend reading the final rule for full details. See Appendix C of the rules for guidelines on establishing quiet zones. The final rule is available on the web at www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/1318. This site also includes links to the FRA's quiet zone calculator. See the Iowa DOT's list of railroad contacts for quiet zone issues at www.iowarail.com/pdfs/quietzonerrcontacts.pdf.