City of Burlington City Administrator Kevin Lahner announced late Thursday that the city’s request for a varience – allowing the city to retain quiet zone status and eliminate the need for Canadian Railroad trains to sound their horns – was denied.

The press release reads:

The City of Burlington’s request for a waiver petition that would allow more time to comply with the Federal Railroad Administration’s quiet zone requirements has been denied. This means that Wisconsin Central/Canadian National Railroad trains are required to blow their horns as they traverse the City of Burlington, as they have been since June 26 of this year.

The City will continue to work with all applicable federal agencies and the railroad in an effort to reestablish the quiet zone as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the approval process and required federal processes for the establishment of a quiet zone is a lengthy one and we are unsure of how long the entire process will take.  The City filed various applications and documents months ago as well as supplied additional documentation to support our application in May and June of this year. Additionally, more than 90 people submitted comments in support of our waiver application.

Below is a description of when and how the trains are required to sound their horns:

The rule is engineers must begin to sound train horns at least 15 seconds and no more than 20 seconds in advance of all public grade crossings. Train horns must be sounded in a standardized pattern of 2 long, 1 short and 1 long blasts. The pattern must be repeated or prolonged until the lead locomotive or lead cab occupies the rail crossing. The rule does not stipulate the duration of long and short blasts.

Since the City’s multiple crossings are located in close proximity, and the horn sounds for each crossing, it may seem like the horn is sounding in excess of the requirements.

Please be advised that federal law dictates these requirements and the City cannot enact local legislation to prevent the horns from sounding. Additionally, the State of Wisconsin cannot enact state legislation that would stop the horns from sounding.