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Butt: Put that horn where the sun don’t shine

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 at 5:13 pm in Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Richmond.

Richmond Councilman Tom Butt

Richmond City Councilman Tom Butt is unimpressed with Federal Railway Administration staffer LeeAnn Dickson’s offer to host a community meeting about why trains use horns.

Richmond and train operators have been at war for years over horns and blocked crossings.

Dickson sent Butt an email asking which of two dates — mid-day on Jan. 11 or 12 — would work better and this is what he had to say:

Ms. Dickson,

 While I appreciate the offer of an informational meeting about train horns, I respectfully suggest that explaining horn use it is not what is really needed.

 I think people understand what a train horn is, and the City of Richmond probably knows more than any city in California how to establish Quiet Zones.

 If there is going to be a meeting, it should include the following:

  •  Why the FRA has never taken an enforcement action against a Quiet Zone violator in Richmond.
  •  Why the FRA has set up rules that require cities to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars just to silence horns at one grade crossing.
  •  Why the FRA allows railroads to use horn signals in yards at night when radios are clearly acceptable.
  •  Make the top managers from BNSF come and explain why their engineers continually lay on their horns when they don’t have to.
  •  Make the businesses along Canal Boulevard come and explain to the people of Richmond why their convenience is more important than people’s sleep.
  •  Make the CPUC come and explain why they exercise even less flexibility than the FRA with respect to train horns.
  •  Invite our state legislators to explain why they can’t rein in the CPUC with respect to train horns and protect public health.
  •  Invite our congressional delegation to explain why Congress doesn’t take action to protect people against the health impacts of nighttime train horn use.

 If we could get these people and these items on the agenda, it would have the possibility of being a really productive meeting. Otherwise, it would probably be a waste of time.

Tom Butt, Vice-Mayor, City of Richmond

Richmond City Councilman

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  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Richmond must tackle train horn abuse! After that, the city will take a crack at shootings and gangs.

  • Rick K.

    Train horns are sounded for good reason. Consider this scenario — the train horns are silenced and then a horrific accident occurs in Richmond and a railroad crossing. Councilman Butt likely would be among those who would criticize the railroad for “doing nothing” to prevent the accident with claims like “a simple horn could have saved lives!” Trains have been running through the Richmond area for more than 130 years, back when the townsite was just a giant marsh. Trains are vital to the local economy, supporting good jobs that many Richmond residents want. Find a way to accommodate both trains and the public instead of engaging in theatrics. (Did Councilman Butt actually misspell the name of the FRA official in his e-mail salutation line? If so, that’s very unprofessional.)

  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    Rickkaye … I was the one who misspelled LeeAnn Dickson’s name, not Tom. I have fixed it. Thanks for catching the error!

  • david vartanoff

    Sadly, Mr Butt ignores the regular death of trespassers on railways.