Jul 29, 2014
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Baldwin Man Wants Help Controlling Local Train Noise

Will (should) local borough councils support his efforts?

Baldwin Man Wants Help Controlling Local Train Noise Baldwin Man Wants Help Controlling Local Train Noise

In what he's calling a "quality of life" issue, Baldwin Borough resident Jim Bowman of Jean Drive has asked the Baldwin Council to support the institution of a "quiet zone" in the area immediately surrounding the Jean-McAnulty Road intersection.

Trouble is ... the railroad nearest Bowman's home may not be in Baldwin Borough and may be out of the Baldwin Council's full jurisdiction.

As Bowman learned at a Baldwin Council meeting on Tuesday night, the loud train horns that he and his neighbors keep hearing are coming from a railroad that runs horizontally along the southern border of Whitehall Borough.

In fact, as Baldwin Borough engineer Larry Souleret said while looking at a map on Tuesday, the railroad literally splits the border of Whitehall and south Baldwin, meaning that any quiet zone would have to include cooperation from the Whitehall Council, as well.

Bowman, who said that his neighbors and his family, including two young boys, are often woken up by train horns at 1, 3 and even 4 a.m., would like for trains using that railroad to limit their horns at certain hours of the night.

Bowman said, when he bought his home on Jean in May 2007, "The traffic on this railroad was extremely light. There were maybe two or three trains a week. It wasn't an issue five-and-a-half years ago.

"Now, since that time, the traffic on this railroad has increased considerably, and it's not at all family-friendly."

Baldwin Mayor Alexander R. Bennett Jr. encouraged Baldwin's council members to work with Whitehall officials to establish a quiet zone near the McAnulty-Jean intersection.

Baldwin Councilman John Ferris said that Whitehall residents on nearby Jewel Drive are almost certainly being affected by the train noise, as well.

If the Baldwin and Whitehall councils were to act on limiting horn noise, however, that would limit the amount of warning that motorists and pedestrians have of oncoming trains. And where the railroad crosses McAnulty just before Jean, there are no arms coming from the tracks to stop traffic.

The implementation of a quiet zone would require the installation of those arms, and as Baldwin Councilman Michael Stelmasczyk pointed out, the borough—or in this case, boroughs—would be responsible for paying for it all.

Stelmasczyk also said that, since horn noise has shown to help to prevent accidents, accidents occurring in quiet zones become borough responsibility rather than rail company responsibility.

Ferris called that "the liability factor."

"I don't think it's an easy decision," Stelmasczyk said. "I think all of that has to be taken into account."

Can you hear noise coming from this railroad? Has it disturbed you, as well? Tell us in the comments section below.

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