Are trains too loud? Savannahians say 'yes' - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Are trains too loud? Savannahians say 'yes'

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

It's said that success has a price, but Tuesday night, more than 50 Savannahians said it isn't price they're willing to pay.

They came to the Bull Street Library for a citizen-sponsored meeting with city officals on increased train noise that has come with the growth of the Port of Savannah.

More cargo at the fastest-growing container port in the U.S. means more trains, trains citizens at the meeting say wake them before the sun rises.

Some said they heard four trains pass by Sunday alone – all before 8 a.m.

In Savannah, railroads cross streets 26 times in less than three miles.

Virginia Mobley lives near the tracks and served as the meeting's moderator. She says the railroad companies aren't being good neighbors.

"They don't want to change their ways," she said. "They want to continue operating the way they've operated for the past 200 years."

Jason Combs lives near the tracks on 36th Street. He also rents out property there. He says the train holds down his home's value and makes it hard for him to keep tenants.

"This issue certainly affects people's property values and in turn hurts the city because the city collects property taxes based on those values," he said.

Federal law requres conductors to sound their horns three times when they pass over streets, except in federally-designated "quiet zones."

City leaders are considering installing rail arms and other safety devices, then applying for quiet zone status.

But it remains a question whether that would shift legal liability from the railroad to the city if a train were to strike a car or pedestrian.

One thing is certain, though. The city would have to foot the bill for improvements along the rail line allowing the quiet zone to be created. An internal study by the city estimates the cost at $300,000-$1 million.

Whatever the solution, West Savannah resident Centennial Williams wants it to be for everyone -- not just residents of the newly-gentrified Victorian District and Midtown.

Those residents say they've been dealing with loud trains for the past five years.

But Williams says she's been woken by those trains every night of her life.

"They're saying five years, I'm saying 50 years," she said.

Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson said her office will organize a citizens' panel to brainstorm tools to mitigate train noise.

In the meantime, the city is expected to put out a request for proposals this week for a rail consultant to study the issue.

The estimated cost for the consultant is $50,000.

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