Train horns are silenced as quiet zones go into effect in Tempe

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TEMPE, Ariz. - The startling horn of a Union Pacific train chugging through Tempe will be silenced Wednesday morning as Railroad Quiet Zones go into effect.

For most of the day, the train tracks that run through Tempe sit quiet, going unnoticed by the thousands of residents who live nearby. But several times a day -- and at least once at night -- residents are startled by the train's horn.

Residents have complained for years and several years ago, Tempe started working with other government entities and the railroad to establish quiet zones  for the several-mile stretch from Tempe Town Lake east to the Mesa border.

It was finally approved in mid-December.

The city spent more than $160,000 on a safety study, raised medians and signs.

Taxpayer dollars well-spent, according to many residents.

"I would definitely put pillows over my ears because I'm very sound sensitive," said Cheryl Sosnowski, who lives near the tracks.

"There was a detail [in the rental ad], being close to the train but not the detail of it being in my backyard," Samantha Morphy added.

Starting midnight Wednesday, thousands of Tempe residents may finally get a night of uninterrupted sleep -- unless there's a safety concern near the track.

"The trains will only sound their horns if the engineer judges a safety issue -- there's a pedestrian or vehicles on the tracks," said Tempe Assistant City Manager Jeff Kulaga.

As far as safety is concerned, residents were notified several weeks in advance, and signs warn pedestrians and bicyclists to look before crossing the tracks.

Flashing lights will still signal and no-crossing arms will still lower.

"I think most people in this area are aware they're crossing the train tracks. So hopefully the trains will keep an eye out for them and they'll keep and eye out for the trains," Sosnowski said.

If the quiet zones do well, Tempe will consider adding more.