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Woods Cross residents tired of hearing overnight train horns

By Michael Anderson

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18 2014 11:41 p.m. MST

Residents Meredith Bird, left, and Julie Checketts pose for a photo at a railroad crossing at about 900 West and 1500 South in Woods Cross, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. Meredith stands with her daughter Lucey and her son Whyatt. Julie holds her son Brock.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

WOODS CROSS — Families in one neighborhood say they can’t get a good night’s sleep because loud train horns keep going off at all hours of the night.

It’s a problem that’s been going on for several weeks, and they say enough is enough.

Union Pacific trains started sounding their horns as a safety measure because of a broken crossing sensor. A permanent fix won’t happen until late spring or early summer.

Until then, a Union Pacific representative said the company has decided to start having its trains pass through the crossing slow enough that they won’t need to sound the horns.

The crossing near 875 West and 1500 South has been declared a quiet zone for years, but city administrators said Union Pacific trains started sounding their horns following a Dec. 19 snowstorm that left the crossing damaged.

Union Pacific officials say the problem is that brine from a plow truck got underground and into the sensor, causing it to pick up false readings. The salt conducts electricity, making the system unreliable.

Train conductors were then put on order to blow their horns through the crossing as a safety measure. But homeowners say with several trains a night, it's a big problem.

“The trains are making us crazy,” homeowner Julie Checketts said. “It’s not like once or twice. It’s every hour. So it’s keeping our kids awake. It’s waking us up.”

"They're really loud and obnoxious," said Vinnie Filler, who has a newborn and is already sleep deprived. “My kids hate it too. They scream, ‘Tell them to stop,’ and it’s just really loud.”

Checketts said it sounded like the problem from December was fixed, but the second week of January the horns were back.

Woods Cross city administrator Gary Uresk said he thought the problem was going to be resolved shortly after the December storm that started it all.

"But recently, just because of the rainstorms that we've had, they say that's created the problem because there's so much salt in there," Uresk said.

Union Pacific officials say they will likely have to wait until late spring or early summer before repairing the sensor.

"When I wake up at 2 o'clock (in the morning), and then I'm up until 4 because it's all I can hear is the train, it gets pretty tiring,” Meredith Bird said.

City leaders say they're frustrated too.

"We've asked them to limit the amount of time that they'd have to sound the horns, but it seems like it just keeps going on and on,” Uresk said.

Meantime, nearby homeowners say they feel stuck.

“It’s very frustrating, especially because we get to deal with it 24/7,” Checketts said.

Email: manderson@deseretnews.com

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