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

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

Lisa Vorderbrueggen