Downtown Lakeland declared a 'quiet zone' to keep trains from blasting their horns

CSX installed additional gates at intersections

LAKELAND, Fla. - After years of listening to the obnoxious horns from passing trains, people in Downtown Lakeland will soon get relief.

Starting Saturday, downtown will officially be labeled a "quiet zone," meaning no more horns unless it's an emergency.

Currently engineers are supposed to blow the horn before each intersection to warn people driving or walking by.

"Almost hourly, if not more than once an hour," said Ann Rye, owner of Traditions Unlimited right next to the tracks. "The traffic has definitely picked up since the new rail terminal in Winter Haven."

Rye and other business owners pushed the City of Lakeland for years to do something about the noise.

It will be the first quiet zone in Florida north of Miami.

In order to establish the horn-free zone, CSX had to install additional gates to stop drivers from trying to beat the train. There are now four gates at each intersection instead of the traditional two.

"Cars would just weave around the gates to get to one side to the other and that created a significant safety problem," said Chuck Barmby, Lakeland transportation director. "The big thing that helped us out was CSX's separate safety projects and the work that they've done."

The quiet zone runs between Ingraham Avenue and the former New York Avenue rail crossing.

Officials said it may take a couple weeks for engineers to become accustomed to the new zone, so you people may still hear occasional horns sounding.

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