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Project Experience: Locomotive Horn Noise National Rule

As a subconsultant to PTG/DeLeuw Cather, HMMH worked with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in developing the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed national rule “Use of Locomotive Horns at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings.” This rule, mandated by Congress, would:

  • Standardize the requirements for quiet zones
  • Provide a national process to apply for quiet zones
  • Require trains to sound their horns at all public grade crossings, except those within Quiet Zones

The Challenge

An EIS was needed to determine the effects of eliminating all of the nearly 2000 public Quiet Zones around the US.

The Strategy

HMMH developed an empirical model that used the FRA’s Noise Impact Criteria to determine impact at grade crossings where whistle bans were to be lifted due to the rule. The results were applied to a GIS database using Census data to catalog the results. HMMH’s model demonstrated that up to 350,000 people would be affected by eliminating existing train horn exclusions.

The Solution

The same model will be used to assess mitigation strategies for communities affected by locomotive horn noise and will help determine a strategy that will provide the greatest benefit with the available funding.