Shawnee neighborhood will celebrate goal 10 years in the making: silencing train horns

Photo by H. Michael Miley via Flickr.
Photo by H. Michael Miley via Flickr.

A group of Shawnee neighbors will gather with city officials on Saturday to celebrate the achievement of a goal that’s been nearly a decade in the making.

The busiest railline in all of Kansas, a BNSF route with 89 trains per day, passes through Shawnee at Martindale Road, just feet from existing homes and growing subdivisions. Because the railroad intersection along Martindale at 75th Street was on public land and not fully controlled, regulations required that trains sound their horns every time they passed. That meant sleepless nights for the hundreds of people who lived within earshot of the crossing.

But after nearly 10 years of working with city officials, neighbors and the city have wrapped up efforts that to ensure the trains no longer have to sound their horns through the area. Area homeowners raised $40,000 of their own money to fund construction of a bridge to a piece of private property so the city could close one of the railroad crossings.

The city also worked to turn the 73rd Street crossing into a full public crossing with a warning gate, and worked with Federal Railroad Administration to get an exemption to a rule that requires a 60-foot median from the street to the railroad. Previously, trains were required to sound their horns at that intersection as well.

On Saturday, the “Rails and Trails Project” group and city officials will gather near the 73rd Street crossing to celebrate the completion of the project and the silencing of the horns.

Shawnee isn’t the only community that’s wrapping up efforts to reduce noise pollution from trains here this season. Merriam recently switched on three “wayside horns” along railroad crossings through the city that will reduce the spread of train noise through several neighborhoods.