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Rail News: Communication and Signal

Federal Highway Administration issues interim approval on wayside horn systems


After monitoring the development and implementation of wayside horn systems the past 10 years with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Safety recently issued an "interim approval" that will enable railroads and communities to install the device at grade crossings, pending FRA approval.

Directed at oncoming motorists, a wayside horn is designed to simulate a train horn's sound and pattern but minimize noise for residents located near crossings.

"Although [train horns] provide a safety benefit to [motorists], the community in close proximity to the railroad crossing can be subject to the sound impact of the horn, which can occur any time of the day or night," said Regina McElroy, director of FHWA's office of transportation operations, in a memorandum introducing the interim approval.

The administration issued the interim approval based on its evaluation of the technology and the FRA's interim final rule on train horns — issued late last year and effective in December — which requires trains to sound their horn when approaching a crossing, but enables communities to quiet horns at about 150,000 nationwide crossings if they meet certain safety requirements.

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More News from 8/10/2004