Neighbors on Glenerie Boulevard are hoping the Ulster Town Board can help them get some peace and quiet by turning their stretch of road into a quiet zone for CSX freight trains.
At a meeting of the Town Board held on November 3, Linda Fallon made the request on behalf of the Glenerie Lake Park Association, with its members saying their quality of life is consistently upended by train horns along roughly a half mile as it crosses Eastern Parkway.
The freight track runs adjacent to Glenerie Boulevard through the town and into Saugerties, and local residents in around 30 affected households are saying the horns sounding at Eastern Parkway are too loud for too long.
“Under the train horn rule, locomotive engineers must begin to sound train horns at 15 seconds and no more than 20 seconds in advance of all public grade crossings,” Fallon said. “The rule does not stipulate the duration of long and short blasts. Horns must be sounded in a pattern of…one short, one long blast. The rule does not stipulate the duration of long and short blasts. Plenty of times we have heard a continuous horn for one-quarter mile.”
Fallon added that while occasionally a train will not sound its horn through the intersection at all, even the standard pattern is disruptive to the people who live close to the crossing.
“There are loads of medical studies over 40 years that show that for those who live near the railroad the horn noise disturbs sleep which could, in turn, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and is a possible link to hypertension,” Fallon said. “Studies also suggest depression can be linked to noise pollution created by the railroads.”
Fallon said that home remedies don’t entirely help, and the noise isn’t something one can acclimate to over time.
“Before anybody says that one gets used to the noise, studies indicates that sleep is disturbed,” Fallon said. “One medical study indicates that using earplugs, leaving a fan on for white noise, even closing the drapes in the windows, doesn’t completely resolve the issue of the railroad noise pollution. It is impossible for us to leave our windows open during the night for fresh air while we sleep, so the air conditioner has to be on.”
In addition to seeking assistance from Town officials, members of the Glenerie Lake Park Association are also trying to determine whether the impacted area may have been previously deemed a quiet zone and could therefore have the distinction grandfathered in.
Deputy Supervisor Clayton Van Kleeck said that he understands the concerns brought to the Board, particularly as he lives close to another CSX crossing at Leggs Mills Road, but he added that he’s not sure what the local government can do to remedy the situation.
“I’ve lived next to the railroad my entire life, I know how much power I have,” Van Kleeck said. “We can’t promise you anything because it’s the railroad. We can promise you we will try.”
“You probably have more power than you think,” Fallon said.
The next meeting of the Ulster Town Board is scheduled for Thursday, November 17.