The volume and frequency of train horns has become a quality of life concern for an increasing number of Shawnee residents. The City is aware of the concern and has produced a report as an effort to provide information on the complex challenges of train horns in our community.
To view a copy of the report, please click here.
On January 13, 2015, the City held a public meeting for citizens at Mill Valley High School, which included a presentation from City staff and additional information from a representative of the Federal Railroad Administration.
Further discussion of train horn noise took place at the Council Committee meeting on Tuesday, February 3. To view the presentation given by City staff at that meeting, please click here. To listen to the audio of the meeting from February 3, please click here.
On November 23, 2015 the City submitted a Notice of Intent to establish a quiet zone along the Emporia Subdivision line (this is the rail line that runs north/south along Woodland and Martindale in the middle of Shawnee). A Notice of Intent is a document that summarizes to the railroad, the Federal Railway Administration, and the State of Kansas the intentions of the City to implement a quiet zone. This step is necessary so the City can utilize the solutions at each crossing to mutually benefit each other (ex. closing of crossings may help to have less invasive (and less expensive) safety measures installed at another crossing).
On October 24, 2017 the City submitted a Notice of Establishment of a Railroad Quiet Zone for the Emporia Subdivision line. A Notice of Establishment is the final document required and that summarizes to the railroad, the Federal Railway Administration, and the State of Kansas the intentions that were submitted in the Notice of Intent were acted upon and the City implemented a quiet zone. This Notice of Establishment includes the 59th Street, 73rd Street, and 75th Street railroad crossings.
The Notice of Establishment for a quiet zone at the 73rd and 75th Street crossings did take effect November 15. However, BNSF was very clear that this would not be an immediate process and that the train horns will gradually decrease over time. Per staff's most recent discussion (11/15) with BNSF, they were removing/replacing certain signage to verify the quiet zone. They also released a bulletin to their engineers notifying them of the quiet zone. Since it is the discretion of each engineer to blow the horns, it is a big learning curve for all of them (89 per day).
Staff was on site the morning of the 15th and observed multiple trains that did not blow their horns, however, residents have indicated that not all horns are silent yet.
When staff closed the crossing at 59th Street, it took over 3 months for the horns to completely stop.
55th Street, crossing the railroad tracks, is the only access point for three properties on the east side of the railroad tracks. The City has purchased 2/3 of those properties and is working with the remaining property owner on a permanent solution.
The City has made significant progress on silencing the train horns at the crossing located at the 55th Street, however, there are a few steps to complete the closure of the crossing. On 5/8/17, the Governing Body approved staff to pursue bids for an alternative access point (other than over the railroad tracks) to access the properties on the east side of the railroad tracks.
Assuming a solution is resolved with the remaining property owner, this would allow the City to permanently close the 55th Street railroad crossing and access those properties from an alternative route. The City anticipates this project being completed by the end of 2017. Please see the City's anticipated timeline for action on this project:
Timeline updated: 11/10/17
|Purchase Remaining Private Property|
|55th Street Crossing Closure Agreement|
|Prep for closure of 55th Street|
If you have any questions on this topic, please contact Caitlin Gard, Assistant Public Works Director at (913) 742-6230.