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Train Whistles and the Ridgewood Central Business District

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, with all the new high density housing in the central business district  amd many new people expected to move into town ,don’t be surprised if this come up again .

from Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Ridgewood, N.J. blowing whistle on trains

RIDGEWOOD NJ, Almost 15 years to the day after a village teenager was killed by an oncoming locomotive, the Village Council is set to vote on an ordinance that would outlaw the sounding of train whistles except for an emergency, reports the Bergen Record.

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The new law, expected to be passed Wednesday, is designed to stop trains from sounding their horn as they approach the Ridgewood station.

NJ Transit officials say trains will continue to sound their horn.

“We do it at all stations,” said NJ Transit spokesman Michael Klufas. “People might not hear a train coming in. It’s just another warning. Another opportunity for us to say, ‘Hey, we are coming, get off the tracks.’ ”

Ridgewood officials say they want to protect nearby residents from an often intrusive noise.

“There have been complaints from residents who live all along the tracks,” Mayor Jane Reilly said. “It becomes a quality-of-life issue for these residents. That’s why we are trying to address it.”

It is not clear what effect the ordinance would have. Rail operators — including the line’s heaviest user, NJ Transit — are bound by state and federal laws and guidelines that determine when, where, how long, and how loudly they must sound their whistles.

Train whistles are required by federal law to register at least 96 decibels at 100 feet in front of the locomotive, about the same as the whine of a power tool, heavy truck traffic, or the subway.

But that law applies only to grade-crossings, where trains intersect with motor vehicle traffic. There are no such locations in Ridgewood.

However, NJ Transit abides by a set of rules approved by the Federal Railroad Administration that, in short, say whistles are sounded on approach to stations. The rules from the Northeast Operating Rules Advisory Committee govern both freight and passenger railroads.


“People are going to say NORAC is not law,” Klufas said. “But for all intents and purposes, it is. It’s abided by all the railroads. The biggest concern is safety.”

Safety concerns heightened after the Dec. 8, 1986, accident that killed 16-year-old Kevin Ott, who was walking the tracks to his Ridgewood home. Ott was listening to music on headphones as he walked.

The engineer’s horn blast a few seconds before impact went unheeded, possibly because of a second train idling about 10 feet from the accident site. Another man was apparently killed by a train a month after Ott in the same area.

Following Ott’s death, village residents pushed to make the area near the tracks safer, signing a petition that led to increased fencing along the line.

Because of the inherent dangers posed by massive trains cutting in and out of residential North Jersey communities such as Ridgewood, at least one councilwoman is opposed to the new ordinance.

“When you balance the annoyance of the noise against the possible tragedy, I can’t vote for this proposed new regulation,” said Councilwoman Kim Ringler Shagin. “If someone should fall and get knocked out, if someone has been drinking too much, train whistles can rouse someone.”

Ridgewood is not the only North Jersey town attempting to stop trains from sounding their horns. Glen Rock tried a similar tactic last year, passing a law that banned the use of train horns from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. except in emergencies.

When trains did not abide by the law, the town issued summonses to the operators, including NJ Transit. A municipal judge, however, dismissed the complaints, saying state law overrides the local ordinance.

Ridgewood’s law does not specify penalties for violations.

The hearing on the Ridgewood law will take place Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Village Hall at 131 N. Maple Ave.

14 thoughts on “Train Whistles and the Ridgewood Central Business District

  1. Living near the train, a PRE-EXISTING ‘attractive nuisance’ (=real estate term for school, highway, airport, industrial area etc) is a CHOICE. Good luck with that. AND those living in Upper Ridgewood have been listening to the horns blasting for 2 Hohokus crossings (glenwood and hollywood) for years. And those in the ‘old country’ club area have to listen to the train crossings from midland park (lake st) and Hawthorne (rock road)
    I hope those who consider renting with families in those new apartments know that their children won’t get any sleep. They are well suited for deaf empty nesters, old folks, who are losing their hearing

  2. You don’t hear it after awhile…..

  3. Anything for the new tenants of these building. The Village Council will be looking for their votes.

    The new lawn signs for the next election.
    “Vote for me because I stopped the train whistles.”

  4. Next this council will vote to ban horn blowing in the CBD.

  5. Good luck with , the railroad is so powerful. There’s the law and then there’s the railroad authority. They supersede everything else remember they built this country. They may be able to tone the whistle down a bit that’s about it don’t have any dreams.

  6. JANE REILLY…that explains everything.

  7. They are annoying I grant u that. But they are necessary for safety reasons. We have 2 sets of tracks in Glen Rock and remember the reasons we all bought our home in Glen Rick and Ridgewood. The same goes for the new apartment in Ridgewood. Please stop complaining and remember safety come first. We have more important to worry about. Have a good day.

  8. its rather quaint when you hear it in bed from a few miles away…( Mayberry RFD)

    must be a pain in the rear when it rocks you out of your Bed at 230 when the tanker and lumber Freight trains blow through town and close to the Rails .Imagine Buying and not sleeping ,,,

  9. All that money to rent there on top of the tracks enjoy fools, But then again it’s quieter than living in New York City that shit hole and paying 7000 in rent. Right, right,

  10. I lived in NY for many years on 1tth floor of a building about 100 yards from above ground subway tracks. I heard the trains every morning. When I moved here a few years ago I thought it couldn’t get any quieter BUT didn’t take long to realize I was wrong. The honking wakes me up at around 5 am every freaking day and I am about 1500 feet far (straight line) from the HHK train station. During the last couple of years it has gotten worse as A LOT of trees have been removed. Trees play a big role in air and noise pollution. Those who will rent by RW station won’t give a sh!t as they will give up some sleep just to live in our dreamy “village”. And make no mistake. In order to fill those cells the owners will twist somebody’s arm to make it acceptable for section 8 recipients. And section 8 really doesn’t give a rat’s ass about noise.

  11. First rule of real estate? Location, location, location. Don’t buy a home near a railroad track genius.

  12. What a snotty council and town. Oh no buses at habernickle or no train horns. Please when is your term up

  13. Let’s start with outlawing leaf blowers as that ear drum damaging noise is everywhere. After making that a rule, let’s create a special traffic enforcement group that actually tries to ticket speeders. Speeding vehicles, because they ignore the speed limit, create excessive engine noise (faster speed = more required engine power = more noise). Finally, let’s all pitch in for our fellow and newest villagers who decided to rent near the rail tracks. We can all buy them ear protection devices. Our generosity will solve two matters; the first being noise reduction (assuming they wear them) and secondly, it will identify who they are so we can all stare and point at them as they pass us by….

  14. Do you really think NJ Transit gives a damn what the RWD council mandates? Especially when it concerns safety.

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