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S.L. likely to silence train whistles

Freight-train whistles are a quaint, far-off moan or a wicked wee-hour nuisance, depending on where you are in Salt Lake City.

Those who live — or come to stay for just a night — near the railroad tracks are definitely in the latter category. Since 1999 they've urged the city to silence the engineers who blow two- and three-minute whistles as they pass through the west side of town.

"I've had people say, 'I won't come back to your RV park,' because they couldn't sleep through the night," said Victoria Orme at a recent Salt Lake City Council meeting. Jon Robinson of the Fairpark Community Council added that too often, the whistles start blowing at 500 North and keep sounding at every intersection, all the way out of town.

Those residents say they need some sleep — so the City Council has opted for an ordinance establishing a "quiet zone" along the west-side tracks.

"Other cities around the nation have been doing this for a number of years. They've established quiet zones," city transportation engineer Dan Bergenthal said at a council work meeting Thursday.

The quiet-zone ordinance is expected to be passed at the April 3 City Council meeting. It will prohibit train engineers from blowing whistles unless they're necessary to warn cars or pedestrians away from the tracks.