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Feds to meet with Bellingham neighbors to discuss railroad quiet zones

A train heads south by The Chrysalis Inn and Spa on Jan. 10, 2014 in Bellingham. City officials are considering converting railroad crossings into quiet zones, at a cost of millions of dollars.
A train heads south by The Chrysalis Inn and Spa on Jan. 10, 2014 in Bellingham. City officials are considering converting railroad crossings into quiet zones, at a cost of millions of dollars. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

People interested in learning why trains blast their horns and how they might be silenced are invited to attend an informational meeting on railroad quiet zones Wednesday evening, May 27.

The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. at the Chrysalis Inn meeting room, 804 10th St. in Fairhaven.

Chris Adams, a grade crossing manager from the Federal Railroad Administration, will make a short presentation, and she will be available to answer questions from attendees. The event was put together by members of the South Hill and Fairhaven neighborhood associations.

“In the case of the South Hill and other neighborhoods, the sound travels wonderfully from the railroad track up to Highland Drive because of the hills,” said Gene Shannon, a member of the associations. “It affects a lot of people in a negative way.”

Quiet zones are areas where rail crossings are improved to meet strict safety guidelines, allowing local governments to seek an exemption to federal law that requires trains to regularly blow their horns. Quiet zones do not completely eliminate train horns, but minimize their use.

In December 2014, Bellingham City Council unanimously resolved Mayor Kelli Linville and city staff should try to find the millions of dollars needed to upgrade public crossings and work to create two quiet zones within the city, one in Fairhaven and one along the waterfront.

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