City of Waco considers making downtown a quiet zone

Posted at 10:27 AM, Jan 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:31:22-04

The city of Waco is considering making downtown Waco a quiet zone, which would prevent trains from blowing their horns from 13th Street to Peach Street.

Safety features, including gates, would be added along the railroad track to let drivers know the train is passing through.

"We do think the quiet zone are going to help the quality of life in the downtown area and this is a lot toward pushing toward more development in the downtown corridor," City Traffic Engineer Eric Gallt said.

James Anderson who used to live downtown and now works in that area is supportive of the change.

"I work over a hotel locally here. That's some of the biggest complaints that the train horn, does blow really loudly at night," Anderson said.

Joey MacArthur who is the co-owner of an antique store called Savage Finds said his customers have a positive reaction when they hear the horn.

"My store empties out. Everybody watches the train when it's done. I think that's a cool aspect of blowing the horn, but is it needed?," MacArthur said.

Gallt said if the city adds gates at every crossing and improves pedestrian crossings, it could implement the quiet zone.

However, MacArthur still worries about the safety of pedestrians and drivers.

"People play with the tracks or they like to walk on the tracks and they're not paying attention. That will be a concern obviously whereas when they blow the horn everybody scatters," MacArthur said.

Gallt added that in case of an emergency, train conductors won't have to follow quiet zone rules.

"If they see people or animals on the tracks, they’re still going to blow their horns and these crossings communicate back with the train and if there is a failure with the crossing, the conductor would know then they would be required to blow their horns as they go through the area," Gallt said.

The project has an estimate of $1.2 million dollars with the majority of the cost going toward adding gates at 2nd and 3rd street.

A draft study was already completed and in the next few months the city will consider whether to continue moving forward with the project.

If approved, the change could come as early as in 2019. 

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