City of Tupelo wants to silence railroad horns

August 2, 2013 9:42:27 AM



TUPELO -- Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton wants his city free of train horns. 


He now says silencing them with a citywide "quiet zone" may take more time and money than he originally thought. 


Quiet zones can be established if additional safety improvements are put in place at railroad crossings. Passing trains can blow their horns only in emergencies. 


Quiet zones also require approval from the Federal Railroad Administration and the railroad itself. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway operates on the tracks through Tupelo in northeast Mississippi. 


The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that a discussion of quiet zones has appeared on the city council agenda since May 7 but no action has been taken. Council President Nettie Davis said she'll keep the quiet zones on the council's agenda. 


As a long-term goal, Shelton wants to silence trains passing through the city, and then pursue speeding them up as they go through. 


A number of cities across the country have quiet zones. 


Shelton said the current step in the process involves paying for engineering services necessary to limit train whistles and horns in the city to emergencies. 


Estimated costs associated with the engineering work for the city's railroad crossings total nearly $265,000. The costs include adding crossing bars, flashing lights and other work to the sides of streets to discourage vehicles driving around barriers to beat a train. 


Shelton said the city may pursue paying for it in stages. 


"I want to meet with our state and federal folks and see if anything is out there," he said. 


Shelton recently met with BNSF railroad officials in Memphis to work on building relationships. 


"They seem committed to helping with the quiet zone but made it clear that it's our job to pay for it," he said.