South Bend ban on train whistles being blatantly violated

Published: Jul. 25, 2017 at 5:16 PM EDT
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Some River Park neighborhood residents are apparently losing sleep in the name of increased safety.

As NewsCenter 16 first reported last Friday, trains on the Grand Trunk tracks started sounding their whistles at six crossings in South Bend’s River Park area (Greenlawn, Ironwood, 26th, 30th, 35th, and Logan Street).

The railroad is purposely and unapologetically violating a longstanding ban on whistle blowing there.

“It’s hard sleeping. I have a two month old baby, I have a two year old, seven year old and a 10 year old, it’s been very, very irritating to hear the trains constantly blowing,” said Kayla Stone.

“I think I heard it at 2:00 in the morning,” added Doreen Huddleston. “It’s a big deal cause its noise pollution, that’s the only way I can describe it, and it’s basically being enforced because people aren’t following simple basic rules.”

Huddleston has lived in River Park since the 1980’s, so to her, the whistles also sound familiar. “Here we go again and why are we back here?”

About a dozen years ago the same thing happened amidst changing federal rules that sought to better prevent accidental deaths at crossings while still respecting the lives of those who live nearby.

New regulations required the City of South Bend to buy neighborhood silence by installing additional safety equipment at quiet crossings to compensate for the loss of whistles.

Problem is, no such equipment was ever installed at the six River Park crossings where the whistles are blowing once again.

“They need to come up with replacing these guard arms with ones that are longer that can't be gone around,” said Chris Glassburn. “I’ve seen those in other locations.”

The City of South Bend has made safety improvements at three crossings on another set of tracks on the south side of town.

The city argues that those improvements should be good enough to buy continued silence throughout the entire whistle ban area.

The City of Mishawaka is not being challenged on its commitment to the cause. Since the rules changed, Mishawaka has built an overpass over Main Street, closed several crossings, and installed new safety equipment at others.

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