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Railroad Draws a Line in the Sand Over West 2 Quiet Zone

Although the West 2 Quiet Zone went into effect at 12:01 AM this morning, BNSF chose to ignore it. This follows a letter writing volley between W. Douglas Werner of BNSF and Assistant City Attorney Carlos Privat, wherein Privat warned, “Should BNSF sound its horns in contravention of the Amended Notice, such sounding, together with BNSF’s declared intention not to observe compliance with the quiet zone, is hereby offered as evidence of BNSF’s violation of CFR 222.”


Click here for the Richmond response to the BNSF letter.


Privat also wrote to Ron Ries of the Federal Railroad Administration, “To allow BNSF to willfully ignore the City’s lawful establishment of the quiet zone under this pretext would totally defeat the spirit of 49 CFR 222 and delay establishment ad infinitum.  Accordingly, the City respectfully requests the FRA require BNSF to comply with the quiet zone at Garrard Boulevard, Cutting Boulevard and Canal Boulevard effective 12:01 a.m. on December 28, 2006.”


It appears that BNSF has drawn a line in the sand over the West 2 Quiet Zone. According to a Quiet Zone monitor, BNSF sounded horns this morning beginning at 2:18 AM and going until

4:30 AM, with one locomotive after another proceeding through those crossing with no regard for the fact that the Quiet Zone is now in effect. There were over 50 violations that occurred during this period that could cost BNSF over $250,000 if the law is enforced.


The monitor talked with the BNSF trainmasters on duty at 2:30 AM and 3:45 AM to inquire why the engineers were blasting their horns in violation of the Quiet Zone and was told that they were not even informed that the Quiet Zone became officially effective at 12:01AM.


I have introduced an amendment to the Richmond Municipal Code Noise Ordinance that will allow local police to issue citations for Quiet Zone violations because the Federal Railroad Administration does not seem interested in doing their job.