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Three letters in PAC respond to Noise assault of trains
Saturday 3 May 2008, 09:39
Filed under: NCRA, Railroad, SMART, Sonoma

Original letter here.

Train sounds are good

Published: Thursday, May 1, 2008

Editor: Kendall Haven of Fulton took strong exception to Alfred Bulf’s letter praising SMART (“Noise assault of trains,” Argus-Courier, April 24). Mr. Haven seems intolerant of all noises emanating from anything train. Train whistles. Train clickety-clack. I take strong exception to Mr. Haven’s strong exception.

Train whistles and clickety-clack are among the all-time best sounds. Songs have been written extolling the wailing of the train whistle. People take their children to see a train roll by. Mr. Haven, living up there in Fulton a stone’s throw from the train tracks and the freeway, seems not to be bothered by the sounds of the freeway. The constant urban rumble we all hear, folks, is the sound of cars and big rigs on our streets and freeways. Most of you, Mr. Haven included, seem to have stopped hearing it. Now, there’s something to complain about.

No, Mr. Haven, the biggest complaint I have for SMART is that they aren’t BART (BART is smart, but SMART ain’t BART) and that they haven’t been able to talk Marin County into the 21st century.

Tim Hurley, Petaluma

SMART’s ‘quiet zones’

Published: Thursday, May 1, 2008

Editor: Alarming statistics about air horn noise from rail, cited by a letter writer from Fulton in the April 24 Argus-Courier, ignore the startup plans for SMART rail. These plans include the establishment of quiet zones in the cities served by SMART. Quiet zones eliminate air horn warnings at crossings.

The completely independent startup of NCRA freight service, which might occur this year, will not invest in quiet zones. We can all live with the small startup of freight deliveries of livestock feed to help keep our dairy and poultry industries viable. If voters, in the meantime, pass the SMART rail ballot measure in November, they will have launched a quiet zone process that will control noise for both freight and passenger rail.

Voters have many environmental and transportation reasons, this fall, to vote for the SMART rail and trail measure. Controlling air horn noise of both passenger and freight trains becomes a SMART startup dividend.

Lauren Williams, Petaluma

Distortion of fact

Published: Thursday, May 1, 2008

Editor: Kendall Haven of Fulton, in the April 24 Argus-Courier, attacks the train horn noise by NCRA freight trains and SMART passenger trains. His letter compiles a tissue of outright misinformation and distortion of fact.

n NCRA plans six trains each day, not 16. NCRA states that anything more than six is highly speculative. More than six depends on rebuilding the railroad through the Eel River Canyon, which is very problematic.

n Federal law, 49 CFR 229.129, provides that train horns produce a maximum 110 decibels of noise, not the 120-144 dB Mr. Haven claims. And that 110 dB is measured at 100 feet, not 120 per Mr. Haven.

n Mr. Haven says 100,000 people would suffer from this noise. SMART conducted extensive tests using federal noise criteria. The SMART FEIR, pages 4-55, found that 280 residences would experience severe impacts, and that an additional 540 would experience impacts less than severe. 820 residences can’t hold 100,000 people.

n SMART stepped up to the plate on the horn noise issue two years ago. SMART has earmarked funds to pay for quiet zones so that trains don’t have to blow their horns at crossings. NCRA’s plan to do likewise was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger, but SMART remains steadfast.

n Mr. Haven’s solution is transit buses. Commuters are abandoning Golden Gate commute buses in droves. GGT commutes have lost 25.1 percent of their riders in three years. Yet traffic across the Golden Gate Bridge is flat, a 1.8 percent increase over the last five years. At the same time, GGT ferries gained 28 percent despite fares 63 percent higher than the bus. SMART opponents claim that express bus is cost-effective. It can’t be cost-effective if nobody rides.

n Ferry ridership proves that quality transit service attracts riders. SMART will offer a quality of service buses cannot match. The cost of gas has already swelled SMART ridership projections. To meet greenhouse gas reduction goals, we will have to curb driving and that further raises ridership for SMART. In fact, taking SMART will get most commuters to work faster than driving.

Allen Tacy, Petaluma

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1 Comment

There are a lot of people playing on naive people so they can spread their exaggerated lies about rail service. The people who oppose NCRA and/or SMART have very loud voices and more articles like this need to be posted to educate people and inform them of the real truth about railroads.

Comment by Joshua Woods




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