HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) — On a normal day, trains running along tracks near the intersection of Lakeview and Burke roads pass about every 20 minutes, leaving little quiet for nearby resident.
But the area is one of the few that remain, as the town of Hamburg works to establish a railway quiet zone within its borders.
Joseph Lapinski moved into a house set between two busy sets of tracks more than 40 years ago.
And although some of his neighbors complain of the frequent din and blaring horns, he’s grown accustomed.
“It’s just normal noise,” Lapinski said. “Like I said, they come through at 4 o’clock in the morning, you get a little upset maybe.”
You could even say, he appreciates what they represent.
“I just think it’s progress,” he said. “If the trains are running, somebody’s making money somewhere.”
But in the months to come, Lipinski’s neighborhood will become a lot quieter, when the town establishes the area as a quiet zone.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, quiet zones prohibit train engines from sounding their horns when approaching public highway-rail grade crossings. Train horns may still be used in emergencies, or to comply with other Federal regulations or railroad operating rules, according to the FRA.
Rick Lardo is a principal engineer for the town of Hamburg, one of the region’s first for creating quiet zones.
“I get calls every month from other communities wanting to know how we did it. And how much it costs,” he said.
All told, it’s cost about a half million dollars over the past 10 years to create a town-wide quiet zone. But most of that is paid through federal grants, Lardo said.
Beyond the cost, though, is the process.
“It’s a serious undertaking,” Lardo said “There’s traffic concerns and the public. The federal government, the state and the railroads themselves, they take a long time to review things, and they have engineers a look at things very carefully, and it’s their approval that takes the longest.”
Lardo said the actual work takes about a week. Then there’s the learning process by passing train engineers to be aware of the rules.
Lardo is hopeful the final phase of the quiet zone project will be complete by the end of the summer, but much of the process remains in the hands of railroad companies, often not supportive of quiet zones because horns are sounded for safety.