The long-awaited wayside horns are installed along railroad crossings in Old Town Lenexa, although they have not yet been activated. Crews for the city of Lenexa came out to install the wayside horns and related equipment on Tuesday.
This marks a milestone in the years-long project to silence the deafening train horns that sound through Old Town. However, it’s still going to take several weeks or longer before the wayside horns are officially the only sounds heard at the railroad crossings at Pflumm and Noland roads.
Steve Schooley, transportation manager for the city of Lenexa, said the city is waiting for verification from BNSF Railway that the wayside horns and equipment are properly installed and the connections are functioning.
After receiving confirmation from BNSF Railway that everything is ready to go, then the city of Lenexa will issue a Notice of Establishment to the railroad company. That letter simply declares that the wayside horns are installed and ready to be activated.
Schooley said the city hopes to issue the Notice of Establishment as soon as possible, but it could take a couple of weeks.
The city plans to give BNSF Railway about 30 days after issuing the Notice of Establishment before requiring that trains silence their horns and utilize the newly installed wayside horns. This allows BNSF Railway the time to give proper notifications to the train engineers and coordinate with all of the trains about the wayside horns, Schooley added.
However, the trains won’t stop sounding their horns on the date that Lenexa issues the Notice of Establishment.
During that 30-day period, the train horns may sound alongside the wayside horns, Schooley said. This could be confusing for residents and businesses in the area because they’ll hear both at the same time. But this is intentional to prioritize public safety purposes during this time of transition, he added.
“They obviously want to be safe, and we want them to be safe, so there’s going to be a little bit of an overlap between the two for about a month,” Schooley said.
Schooley said this project has been a long time coming. He recalled the city and the railroad company completed the wayside horn tests in May 2018.
“Nothing’s been overly challenging; it just seems to take a long time,” Schooley said. “It’d be nice to make it go faster, but it is what it is, and hopefully we’re ready to go and we’ll be able to get the horns silenced and the wayside horns operating here soon.”
Schooley said he thinks the wayside horns will provide a “great benefit” to the surrounding area. About 18 trains pass through Old Town every day, according to crossing reports from BNSF Railway provided to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“They have to start sounding their horns about a quarter mile in advance of the crossing, and they’re quite loud and very disruptive to day-to-day things that people do and running a business,” Schooley said. “With the wayside horns, that sound will be focused and more concentrated right at the crossing as opposed to just spread throughout the area and will certainly be much less disruptive to folks in the area.”