NewsRegion C Palm Beach CountyWest Palm Beach

Actions

Restless West Palm Beach neighbors seek relief from blaring train horns

City: Quiet zones coming
Posted: 10:41 PM, Dec 15, 2017
Updated: 2017-12-16 04:53:17Z
It's starts with rumbling in the distance and then blaring horns vibrating through bedroom walls. There's no peace and quiet for some West Palm Beach neighborhoods near railroad crossings. 
 
The City of West Palm Beach says Brightline is on track to making the upgrades that will meet quiet zones requirements, but till then locomotive engineers are required by law to blow the train horns at least 15 seconds before every railroad crossing. 
 
"That horn, it's just penetrating," said Joy Kerschner in the SoSo neighborhood in West Palm Beach.
 
It's 4 a.m., eyelids are heavy, and there's no chance of getting any shuteye. 
 
"There will be one at 11, sometimes 12 and then if it's a bad night it will be almost every hour," said Kerschner.
 
She lives on Plymouth Road, west of Dixie Highway and just one block and a half east of the railroad tracks.  
 
Friday morning, we listened with her dark and early at 5:30 a.m.
 
"I'm just tired. I'm exhausted," she said. "Many times I cannot get back to sleep again." 
 
Joy has lived in the neighborhood for two years, but just recently she learned she's not the only one who can't sleep. On the neighborhood app Nextdoor, there's a thread of tired and restless locals.
 
"Lately, the trains have been consistently blowing their horns as they come through," Kerschner read from a post published by another neighbor.
 
"I like the one who blasts a single blast at every crossing at 2 a.m.," she continued reading another post. "I'm so glad to know I'm not the only person walking around like a human zombie all day because I don’t get any sleep."
 
Another zombie neighbor who also tosses and turns at night recorded the roaring horns from her doorbell camera just east of Dixie Highway. 
 
Brightline has partnered with the Palm Beach TPA to implement quiet zones between 15th street in West Palm Beach and the southern Palm Beach County border. 
 
West Palm Beach Assistant City Administrator Scott Kelly said some local railroad crossings will require more improvements to become quiet zones whether that me quadrant gates for all four corners of the crossing, pedestrian gates, some may even require a median so cars cannot go around the crossing gates.
 
Once the upgrades are completed for certain sections, the city will inspect the crossings and forward the review to federal agencies that then have 60 days to approve the quiet zone. 
 
A Brightline spokesperson said currently Brightline trains are running simulated service and blowing their horns. That means local neighborhoods are hearing horns from Brightline and freight trains approaching the crossings. 
 
"Good news is, it will end. Bad news is, no idea when," said Kerschner referring to information she received from an inspector. 
 
Kelly is confident the West Palm Beach crossings will meet requirements to be quiet zones in the next few months. Then, locomotive engineers would only blow the horn if something is obstructing the track.