The Palm Beach Post: Point of view – Louder trains the new normal along FEC tracks
Posted on February 12, 2015
As a small-business owner in downtown Boynton Beach, I can confirm that the new Florida East Coast Railroad train engines are bigger, stronger and much louder than before. It is not only the horns but also the trains themselves that are louder.
Maybe it is quieter and more comfortable for the engineer, but not for businesses and residents. You can hear both the train and the horns while sitting on the beach in Ocean Ridge, or in your house with the windows shut, more than a mile away.
This is no doubt a result of an infusion of All Aboard Florida (AAF) bond money intended for passenger trains. For those of you looking forward to “quiet zones,” please realize that the only reason AAF made the offer is that new federal laws will require positive train control (PTC) systems by the end of this year, which could eliminate horn warnings.
But the new Republican Congress is already planning to delay, relax or eliminate these rules. If so, the horns will continue. Either way, we are still stuck with the noise of the trains themselves. And All Aboard Florida has still not said what the sound level of a passenger train going 100 mph will be, despite an environmental impact statement that was supposed to answer that and other questions.
More than a month ago, I stood before the Boynton Beach City Commission and told its members that the trains were violating city code. Train noise is, for some reason, exempt from codes.
It seems that if you are a business in Boynton Beach and you fall behind in code compliance, your property is condemned, demolished and offered for sale to the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency at a fraction of its value (see the article “Owners plan lawsuit after city demolishes building,” Jan. 31).
If you are the FEC, you can violate code, drive away businesses and destroy property values.
DANIEL SPOTTS, OCEAN RIDGE
Editor’s note: Trains operating in the FEC corridor must, according to federal law, blow their horns at virtually every crossing. The horn must be between 96 and 110 decibels — as loud as a rock concert.