Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Downtown Train Horn Noise -- Out of Control!

If the incumbent Mayor is so set on bringing more people downtown to live and work, why has he done nothing in the last decade to curb train horn noise? Fed up with Pollard's inattention, downtown residents have put together a workable plan--and I'll be teaming with other councilmembers to help them find resolution.

The city's top leadership has been on a virtual warpath over the past decade to lure residents, businesses and visitors into downtown Vancouver. Around Esther Short Park alone, the City has spent millions of dollars in public investment: the hotel/convention center (building owned by the public), Heritage Condos (tax abatement), Vancouver Center (tax abatement), Esther Short building (City offices), Vancouver Commons (Housing Authority), and of course the park itself.

Yet with all of this investment and the nice amenity of an urban park, why are residents, business owners, visitors and hotel attendees still complaining about downtown --- some 10 years later?

One of the primary reasons is the train horn noise.

There are two road crossings of the BNSF rail line in downtown Vancouver. Neither of these crossings are protected, and they thus require the train engineers to lay on their horn to warn of the pending crossing. Unfortunately, the trains don't keep "regular" business hours, and they pass through Vancouver at ALL hours of the day.

The horn noise is unbearable, and those in the downtown have been letting the City know this for a decade.

Finally, concerned residents took it upon themselves to research the train horn noise matter, and they initiated conversations with the railroad, business owners and the City. They have now prepared a fix to the problem -- resulting in no need for the horns to blow -- and have presented that resolution to the City.

Yet, there is still no action.

The word from on high, now, is that permanent fixes might occur sometime after 2012.

Another two years of suffering in downtown.

But Pollard is trying to encourage people to live, work, play and stay here?!?

Time to get off the dime and implement the low-cost fix. If the Mayor won't do his part to help, then the rest of us will.

I'll be working with other councilmembers to move this matter forward immediately….for the sake and livability of 'The Heart' of Vancouver.


Silja said...

I live in the Hough neighborhood and I agree that the train horn noise really is awful. I can hear the horns right at this moment while I am typing. They often wake us up many times at night and my poor daughter (who is now 5) has never really been able to nap in our house because of all the noise. It's ridiculous.

JustinS said...

Would love to know what the "low-cost fix" is.

Also, as someone who lives in that general vicinity (the Hough Neighborhood), I can tell you that an equally disruptive barrier to downtown livability is the semi traffic along Mill Plain. The noise of brakes, the hit to air quality, the drivers flooring their big rigs in a posted 25mph area... all of it makes the downtown area that much more difficult to call "home."

And I didn't even mention the effect of the traffic itself. You have semi trucks, not exactly capable of jack rabbit starts, that at times line up from the I-5 on ramp all the way back past Franklin. With the timing of the lights, one can easily get stuck behind that line of trucks and need 20 minutes to drive 4 blocks.