Concerned San Marco neighbor petitions for quiet zone

Unnerving. Intrusive. Horrible. Some neighbors use these words to describe the train horns they hear all day long in San Marco.

Now, one of the neighbors is proposing a quiet zone to help cut out the noise.

Neighbors told Action News Jax’s Courntey Cole that trains come through the local crossings every 20-30 minutes, making everyday tasks such as getting the children to sleep or working from home a hassle.

"The problem is train whistles. We have between 24-32 trains that come through San Marco every day,” said Lilla Ross.

Ross said she's lived in San Marco for 40 years.

She’s spent 32 of those on River Oaks Road, very close to one of the nearby railroad crossings.

Ross said as the traffic has increased, the noise from the trains has as well.

“It affects me. It’s my wake-up call. It wakes me up around 4:00 o'clock in the morning. A lot of days I can’t get back to sleep, so I’m up very early,” Ross told Action News Jax.

Train engineers are required, by federal law, to blow the horn for at least 15 seconds, and no more than 20 seconds, to let drivers know the train is getting close to the crossing.

While it bothers some neighbors, others such as John, who lives next door to River Oaks Road Crossing, say it just comes with the territory.

“This crossing was here when they bought their houses. I’ve been here since '74. It’s been blowing every time a train goes by, you know?” said John.

But Ross has an idea she thinks could solve the problem: establishing San Marco as a quiet zone.

The first step would be for the city of Jacksonville to apply for quiet zone status with the Federal Railroad Administration, which oversees rail traffic and crossings.

Ross has created the website quietzonejax.com to bring attention to the issue and collect signatures for a petition.

"It’s mostly just a matter of coming up with the money to put in these other safety measures," she said.

A quiet zone would require that safety measures such as lights, four-quadrant gates or traffic barriers be put into place.

Closing the crossing to traffic is also an option.

This would allow engineers to only use their horns in case of an emergency.

So far, Ross said, she's collected 154 signatures.

She is aiming for 1,000 before she presents her proposal for the quiet zone to  the Jacksonville City officials next week.

To visit the website or sign the petition, click here.

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