Residents continue to promote train quiet zone

Neighbors for a Safer, Healthier, and Happier (Shh) Baker City formed to improve the lives of all of the people, schools, and businesses in Baker affected by the train horns. In 2019 we asked the City Council to begin the process of establishing a Railroad Quiet Zone and they voted unanimously to submit a Notice of Intent to the Federal Railroad Administration. A Quiet Zone would maintain railroad safety, protect our kids and schools, help our businesses thrive and help our neighbors get a better night’s sleep.

Since 2019, the City Public Works Department has worked with us to complete safety improvement designs for each crossing, host a well-attended open house, and submit the Notice of Intent.

To date, we have received overall positive support for a Quiet Zone. We heard from residents about how the interruption to their sleep has worsened health problems. We heard from teachers and students at South Baker Intermediate about how the train horns disrupt learning. We also heard from business owners who believe their businesses and tourism would benefit from a Quiet Zone.

What is a Quiet Zone? Train engineers are required by Federal regulations to blast their horns four times before each railroad crossing. When Quiet Zone safety measures are added to crossings, the horn mandate goes away. Engineers can still use a horn when needed. Cities nationwide have set up Quiet Zones to reduce train noise, including La Grande.

At a recent City Council meeting, we heard questions about safety and cost. The Federal Railroad Administration is currently reviewing the City’s plans, and will only approve the Quiet Zone if crossings are deemed to be as safe as or safer than with horns.

Regarding cost, the City’s current estimate for the project is $150,000. We will not rely on any new or additional taxes, and we would like to raise a significant portion of the funding for the project.

A railroad Quiet Zone will improve the health and safety of the community we love, schools, and local business. We invite you to join us and consider signing our petition at https://bit.ly/qzbaker

Jessica Griffen

Neighbors for a Safer, Healthier, and Happier (Shh) Baker City

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