San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

March 1st, 2012
City, UP prepare to silence train horns in town


San Marcos residents can look forward to the sounds of silence — at least from the sound of train whistles — later this year as the city prepares to create “Railroad Quiet Zones” at 26 crossings in San Marcos.

City engineering staff briefed the San Marcos City Council on the coming railroad quiet zones at a recent meeting.

This summer, city crews will begin a three-month project to upgrade streets that intersect with Union Pacific’s railroad tracks. The upgrades adding signage; building medians at crossings for traffic control and to prevent vehicles from going around crossing gates; and adding “constant warning rail circuitry at the one affected crossing that doesn’t aleady use the technology.

The total cost is estimated at about $514,000.

“When a railroad zone goes ‘quiet,’ trains are prohibited from using their horns to announce their approach to an intersection unless the conductor sees an obstruction on the tracks,” said Linda Huff, the city’s engineering director. “Although the intersection improvements will meet federal safety thresholds, motorists will always need to use caution when they cross railroad tracks and to obey crossing signs.”

Phase One will include three quiet zones: the Austin-Line 1 track from Posey Road to Charles Austin Drive; the Austin-Line 2 Track from Posey Road to SH 21; and the “Ajax” Connector from Hopkins Street to Aquarena Springs Drive. In all, 26 intersections will be improved in Phase One.

Phase Two will consist of the Post Road and Uhland Road crossings.

Half of the intersection improvements will only need new signs. The rest involve installation of street medians that will restrict traffic to one lane for about a week while they are being built. Flaggers will direct traffic at these intersections during construction.

Crossings that require median construction include Posey, Centerpoint, McCarty, Patton, Charles Austin, and two rail intersections on Hopkins.

“We have about 24 trains per day moving through San Marcos at all hours of the day and night,” Huff said. “Reducing the noise that the trains make, especially in the middle of the night, will have positive effects on our quality of life.”

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10 thoughts on “City, UP prepare to silence train horns in town

  1. You mean it won’t drown out my radio when I am sitting one mile or so from the tracks? It won’t wake me up anymore at night? I’m not sure what I will do with myself…

  2. Yay! Hope they get Post and Uhland done quickly. I’m several hundred feet from the track and when a train comes by it is so loud that I can’t even talk on the phone or listen to the radio.

  3. The explanation given regarding Post and Uhland is that they will be done after the Aquarena overpass is finished. I believe it has to do with having “contiguous silence zones”, and isn’t something the city controls…

    Can’t wait!

  4. There should be a strict policy implemented to stop usage of train horns. i have seen so many youngsters roaming in to streets holding horns and blowing them on old people and pregnant woman. this is insanity.

  5. Long time coming. Some of those conductors really, really ride those horns, even at 3 am. It’s quaint to hear a train horn from 10 miles off, but it’s something else entirely if you’re two blocks away. Good for the city on finally getting this done.

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