Downtown Tulsa Railroad Quiet Zone
By Craig Day, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Train whistles blowing day and night in downtown Tulsa are a thing of the past – at least in one area on the north edge of town. That area is now a quiet zone, and many people say the idea is right on track
Around downtown Tulsa, trains are just a fact of life, something you have to get used to.
"I usually have to wait right here in this spot here, every day," said Tulsa commuter Jose Flores.
But add the crossing bells, to the sound of a whistle blowing, and that combo can almost be too much.
Just ask Paul White.
"They don't short blow whistles," said business owner Paul White. "They long blow the whistles, and you can't hear anything. It's deafening, especially if you are outside; it's really bad."
White has a furniture restoration shop along the tracks. Sometimes he can barely hear himself think, and phone conversations are out of the question.
"Tell them to call back or wait until the train passes," White said of his solution to the recurring problem.
Five Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railroad crossings downtown now make up a sealed corridor – a fancy term for a quiet zone. It requires engineers to lay off the horn except in an emergency.
"They were loud and noisy, but they're a lot nicer like this," said Jose Flores, a Tulsa commuter.
It's hoped less noise will mean more downtown revitalization.
"It's nice to be able to hear a train come through and not have to hear the deafening sound of the whistle blowing," said Tulsa business owner Paul White.
The new crossings also have better safety measures, including quad gates to prevent cars from going around, and loop detection systems that lift arms if a car gets stuck between them.
Back at the shop, fewer whistles are music to the ears of Paul White – his dog Ellie Mae too.
A combination of $750,000 from a third penny sales tax passed in 2006, and a $1.4 million federal grant paid for the improvements
The sealed corridor consists of new gates installed where the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad intersects with Greenwood Avenue, Elgin Avenue, Cheyenne Avenue, Elwood Avenue and Guthrie Avenue.