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Trains must now sound horns at crossings in city

June 25, 2005|by ADAM BEHSUDI

A mandate from the Federal Railroad Administration has required trains that pass through Hagerstown to start sounding their horns at railroad crossings.

The rule temporarily will abolish the city's "quiet zone" ordinance, which requires trains to maintain silence as they travel within city limits.

Jim Bender, assistant city engineer, said the reason for the federal rule is to ensure the safety of railroad crossings in the city.

He said the quiet zone ordinance will be reestablished when the city updates information and safety requirements for railroad crossings. He said the city has to review the current information of the nearly 22 crossings in the city and update safety features such as signs and road markings.

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Bender said the quiet zone ordinance should resume sometime in mid-July.

The city has had a quiet zone ordinance in place since 1967. The ordinance states that the only time trains were allowed to sound their horns occurred when another train was approaching on a parallel track near a crossing.

All of the crossings in the city are maintained and owned by CSX Transportation. However, Bender said the city is required to install advance warning signs on the side of the roads and markings on the pavement in front of the crossings to warn motorists as they approach.

Bender estimated that anywhere between six to 10 trains, operated by CSX or Norfolk Southern, come through the city every day, but that number usually depends on the schedule of the train company.

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