Hard to do business
Elizabeth Plank can see from her office chair every train that passes along the Marion Line. She can also hear them.
“Ya, you do,” Plank said of getting used to the re-occurring train horns. “But when you are working here its hard to conduct your business when the train is going by.”
Her grandfather, Aldin Plank founded a printing company that is now known as Rapid Ribbons, a trophy and awards business at 505 S. Ninth St.
And it’s not just the horns near the business that are a bother, it’s also the horns at the dozen crossings along the corridor that can be heard.
“There are so many intersections along the road they (engineers) feel the need to blow the whistles all the way down,” she said.
According to information from the Federal Railroad Administration, the “Train Horn Rule” states, “Locomotive engineers must begin to sound train horns at least 15 seconds, and no more than 20 seconds, in advance of a public grade crossing.”
The rule requires engineers to sound the horn with two long blasts, one short and then one long. The blasts must last until the engine is in the crossing. Also, train horn volume must be 110 decibels. A minimum 96 decibels is acceptable.
Not a fan
Bob Miller grew up in Goshen and has lived with the many impacts of two railroads bisecting the city. He’s not too concerned about the train horns.
His business, Bob’s Collision, is at 815 S. Ninth St., just a wrench-throw away from the tracks on the other side of the road.
He said he attended some of the Ninth Street corridor meetings, but became disenchanted with the idea of re-creating the corridor.
“I don’t care,” Miller said of the train noise and the effort to create a quiet zone.
“In this area it’s M-1 (zoned for manufacturing),” Miller said. “There are railroad tracks. When they spent a ton of money on the Ninth Street (plans)... that brought that Indianapolis area consultant up here to find out what’s going on with the corridor, that set me off right away.
“I know the area. It’s commercial and industrial,” Miller continued. “When people built their homes here it was industrial. If you buy a home here you know it’s industrial. It’s still going to be industrial no matter how much they spend.”
He said he sees interactions every day between motorists and trains, and some of the motorists don’t use common sense. He said he watched recently as a driver darted in front of a train that was just three to four lengths of an automobile away.
“People do that every day,” he said.
But the responsibility for safe driving lies with drivers, according to Miller and extensive crossing safety gates are not needed.
“They want to spend millions of dollars to protect people from themselves,” Miller said.
Miller and his wife Karen both nodded affirmative if they notice the frequent horns.
“Over the years, train horns have gotten considerably louder,” Miller said.
“And longer,” Karen added. She said engineers use their horns almost continuously from College Avenue to Lincoln Avenue.
Still, Miller indicated he can’t see the need to spend taxpayers’ money on the corridor project.
“It’s a railroad,” Miller said.