The Albany City Council heard Monday from a resident concerned about the noise made by a train horn, but the council may not have the authority to do anything about the sound.
Albany resident Doug Hiddleson came before the board to request that the city measure the decibels of the Switch Engine 1501’s horn at the Queen Avenue crossing. The horn, he said, was deafening.
The Federal Railroad Administration states that trains have to sound their horns for a minimum of 15 seconds and a maximum of 20 seconds at a maximum decibel level of 110 when entering all public grade crossings. When feasible, the Railroad Administration says train horns must sound the standard pattern of two long, one short, one long horn.
At the work session, Hiddleson played video of the train crossing that had councilors counting off the seconds of the one continuous horn. One count reached 15 seconds before the video was turned off.
Councilor Alex Johnson II said he visited the area recently and heard the horn. He agreed with Hiddleson that it seemed too loud and too long.
Hiddleson said he had spoken to numerous individuals affiliated with the railroad and was told the horn requirements were federal and there was nothing that could be done at the local level. He suggested that the council follow in Salem’s footsteps and look into creating a quiet zone, which would prohibit trains from sounding their horns. Mayor Sharon Konopa said the city had explored such a possibility but did not meet the basic requirements.
Konopa asked Hiddleson to send her the video of the train’s horn. She later said she would attempt to contact someone about the horn.
“I can show them that video and they can speak to their conductor to just not blare the horn so darn loud,” she said.
Konopa also said that the council had no authority to limit a train horn's volume or length.