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Woods Cross residents, city officials complain about train horns in 'quiet zone'

A crossing at 1500 South in Woods Cross declared a quiet zone for years is no longer quiet. Residents in the area are upset because train horns are now blaring at all times of the day.  Union Pacific said trains are sounding their horns because the crossi
A crossing at 1500 South in Woods Cross declared a quiet zone for years is no longer quiet. Residents in the area are upset because train horns are now blaring at all times of the day. Union Pacific said trains are sounding their horns because the crossing sustained damage during the Dec. 19 storm and is considered unreliable.
Matt Powers, Deseret News

WOODS CROSS — City officials have fielded what they describe as “numerous” complaints from residents over train horns blaring at all times of the day in an area that is supposed to be a railroad “quiet zone.”

The crossing at 1500 South has been declared a quiet zone for years, but city officials say Union Pacific trains started sounding their horns following a Dec. 19 snowstorm that left the crossing damaged. The horns haven’t stopped a week and a half later.

“It was literally just kind of a jolt out of sleep,” said Melanie Lutz, a Woods Cross resident whose backyard neighbors the railroad tracks.

Across the railroad tracks, RaNae Cline described the sound of the horns as “huge.”

“I think you know it’s loud when you can count how many trains you can hear during the night,” she said.

Amber D’Ottavio, who lives three blocks away from the tracks, counted six trains in a two-hour period starting at 1:30 a.m. Monday.

“I don’t know how to describe how loud it is. It’s loud enough to wake you up,” D’Ottavio said. “It’s affecting my daily life, so I’m not getting any rest. So then I’m tired during the day. Naps are impossible as well because they’re running during the day.”

On the city's Facebook page, Woods Cross city officials said they have filed a complaint with the Federal Railroad Administration.

On Monday, city administrator Gary Uresk said he had learned from Union Pacific that the crossing was still considered “unreliable” because of the damage sustained during the Dec. 19 storm.

“Water and salt got down into their wires and created some malfunction,” Uresk said.

Union Pacific Railroad spokesman Aaron Hunt said crews have been working on the issue.

“We certainly understand the residents’ concern with the situation,” he said.

Hunt said trains are required by the federal government to sound their horns in quiet zones when there are potentially dangerous situations or when crossings have been damaged.

Union Pacific planned to meet with city officials shortly after the New Year, Hunt said.

Uresk said Union Pacific gave the city no timetable for a fix. He urged residents to be patient and said the city would address communication issues with Union Pacific, since Woods Cross officials had been trying to get answers about the issue for about a week.

“These quiet zones are great,” Uresk said. “I think it’s been a great benefit to our residents, but safety is always No. 1.”

Email: aadams@deseretnews.com