Ask 2: How can I have a ‘Quiet Zone’ study done in my area to prevent train-horn noise?

At KPRC 2, we’re dedicated to keeping Houstonians informed. As part of our Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston.

Question: How can I have a “Quiet Zone” study done in my area to prevent train-horn noise?

Answer: According to the city of Houston’s website, the “Quiet Zone” program was developed to address train-horn noise near neighborhoods. “Quiet Zones” are segments of railroad lines where train crews are exempt from sounding the horn at grade crossings. However, the train engineer may use the train horn if there is any activity on or near the track that he or she deems to be unsafe. The program aims to enhance grade-crossing safety while improving the quality of life for those neighborhoods adjacent to the railroad corridor being considered.

Unless a grade crossing is designated as a “Quiet Zone,” federal law requires that trains must sound the horn 15-20 seconds prior to arrival at a grade crossing. This means the train horn must be sounded continuously from about a quarter-mile in advance of a grade crossing until the train reaches the crossing.

There is currently a list of 31 areas that are petitioning for a “Quiet Zone” and the process is lengthy. Also, the costs of creating new intersections along cross streets that comply with federal regulations can run up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, there is no funding for “Quiet Zone” projects at this time. However, when funds are made available, projects will be prioritized and funded for implementation.

You can learn more about “Quiet Zone” requirements here.