train whistles are banned in the city, sort of

I responded to an e-mail from a constituent today regarding train whistles in the city. So I thought I’d clarify the issue here. Sec 150-8(b) of our municipal code states:

“It shall be unlawful for any railroad company, railroad employee or any locomotive engineer to blow any locomotive whistle within the city limits unless necessary to prevent immediate danger to life or property.”

So, while train whistles are not allowed, we do allow the engineer to make a judgement call to blow the whistle in a dangerous situation. To me, that means we shouldn’t be surprised if we hear train whistles in the city, though we could expect it to be a bit quieter than if we didn’t have the ordinance.

I should also tell you that I don’t like our ordinance at all. We’ve had people killed at railroad crossings in the city. And in my mind, our need for public safety easily trumps our need for quiet.