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City To Silence Downtown Trains

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At 65 decibels, train whistles can heard for miles both day and nights. At 65 decibels, train whistles can heard for miles both day and nights.
Downtown businesses are often bothered by the loud train whistles. Downtown businesses are often bothered by the loud train whistles.
The city is installing gates that will be impossible to avoid. The city is installing gates that will be impossible to avoid.

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- City of Tulsa officials say they will silence those deafening whistles of trains that make their way through the area.

When the arms come down, cars can still dart around them, so trains are required to sound their horns. But the city is installing gates that will be impossible to avoid, and that means no more noise.

Anyone who works or lives downtown is familiar with the sound. At 65 decibels, the whistles can heard for miles both day and nights.

"We hear about it often and understandably so," city planner Dennis Whitaker said.

Whitaker says the city has wanted to silence the trains for several years now, and it will happen by the end of 2009.

A system called Quad Gates will be installed at five downtown crossings. Whitaker claims the new gates will be impossible to get around.

"It will be totally closed," Whitaker said. "You won't be able to skirt any of the gates anymore."

Because conductors will no longer be on the lookout for cars, they will no longer be required to lay on the horn.

City officials say that will create a downtown quiet zone. In addition to the extra safety for cars, the city hopes silencing the whistles will help encourage development downtown.

"Absolutely, I think it would help the neighborhood as far as people wanting to live down here," said Lola Palazzo at Lola's Café.

Palazzo says she and her employees are used to the constant whistles, but the noise can be a hassle for cafe patrons.

"Sometimes it's a problem when we're outside taking orders during nice weather," Palazzo said. "When we have outdoor seating, it can be a bit of a problem."

The city says it will solve the problem in hopes more people will venture downtown to enjoy the sound of silence.

The project will cost about $2 million and will be finished sometime later this year.

Those who live or work outside the downtown quiet zone can expect the trains to be as loud as ever.

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