Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ipswich Train Whistle and California's Transit Bill

Train Rider is away on a business trip. I believe Train Rider will be back riding the trails tomorrow.

Starting us off this morning, The Boston Globe wrote an article about how the recently reinstated train whistles are bothering people in Ipswich. Ipswich is the town that MBTA GM Dan Grabauskas lives in. I guess these people aren't Dan's neighbors.

Residents are complaining about the train whistles. Trains run through the town 26 times a day. There are five railroad crossings, all within a half-mile of each other. Trains are required to use their whistles four to five times at each crossing. The whistles have been recorded at 118 decibels. Since the noise impacts 1,000 residents, the town is seeking a waiver from the Railroad Administration. There is a national safety initiative called the Federal Train Horn Rule that mandates the whistles.

This isn't just about noise, it is about safety. The whistles were reinstated due to an accident back in 2004. The town can eliminate the whistles if they spend between $1.2 to $1.5 million installing gates and enhanced electronic monitoring to help notify drivers about the trains. The town tried to obtain a waiver. If they got a waiver, they would pass the five-year anniversary of the '04 accident and their risk index would be reduced.

The big transportation story today was a bill passed by both houses of the California state Legislature and now awaits approval by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The bill has been designed to attack sprawl. Here is an editorial about it from today's Los Angeles Times. This bill marks the first time any state has attempted to tie greenhouse gas reduction to both transportation funding and regional land-use planning. Very interesting.

Finally, MIT's The Tech newspaper published an update today about the new MIT commuter subsidies. About 700 MIT employees have signed up for free transit passes, funded by MIT, for the month of September. Interesting stuff.

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