The rail freight industry is back after years of decline, but the booming freight business has also created problems for those who drive and live along the tracks. Freight trains are longer and more frequent than they used to be, blocking grade-level crossings, irritating drivers, and worrying emergency teams. Heavy freight traffic also bothers people who live close to the tracks, where idling locomotives create too much noise and vibration. A task force of the Western Governors' Association reported a year ago on a survey of 126 communities, as well as rail and transportation officials. The major issue, the survey says, is poor communication between rail planners and the community. The survey identified three other major issues: inadequate funding for improvements, obstruction and safety at grade crossings, and adverse environmental impacts, such as noise, property maintenance, and air quality. Some cities have filed lawsuits, while others have sought injunctions to stop rail operations on tracks laid in the 19th century. Railroads are working to ease the situation, and new technology may help. Many local officials are accepting the inevitability of rail traffic and working for specific physical mitigation: relocation of yards and pieces of track; new lines or junction points; fencing, landscaping, and sound walls to shield tracks and yards; grade separation; and new signals. Congress has taken up the local cause and is providing money for mitigation projects.

  • Availability:
  • Corporate Authors:

    American Planning Association

    122 South Michigan Avenue, Suite 1500
    Chicago, IL  United States  60603-6107
  • Authors:
    • Andrews, J H
  • Publication Date: 1999-9


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Photos;
  • Pagination: p. 10-14
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00770153
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 10 1999 12:00AM