Trains to blow whistles at every crossing

WEST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - If you live near a railroad track in Southeast Louisiana, get ready to hear a little more noise.  Union Pacific engineers plan to blow their whistles at every rail crossing.

The tracks that run through West Baton Rouge run parallel to Hwy. 1.  People who live near the tracks know when a train is coming.

"Loud the horn blows constantly, because this is a neighborhood where children play and they're trying to keep the tracks clear," said Joycelyn Phillips

Phillips and her neighbors are about to hear to the horn even more.  The sugar cane is ripe and ready, and soon the tracks will be hauling this year's harvest across the state.  Union Pacific Railroad has instructed its engineers to start sounding their whistles at all railroad crossings between Livonia and Avondale, beginning October 1 to warn cane truck drivers a train is nearby.

"It would probably help and I think they go fairly slow through Port Allen, but it probably wouldn't be a good thing if it hits a sugar cane truck," said Bill Schultz.

West Baton Rouge Sheriff Mike Cazes says sounding the alarm across public and private crossings during cane season last year helped reduce the number of truck versus train crashes.

"You think of a tractor trailer hauling 100,000 lbs. of cane, a train gets out ahead and shoves it 3 or 400 yards down and no telling where else it would end up and how much other damage it would do to somebody else that's an innocent bystander because that one truck ran that track," said Cazes.

Residents can expect the noise to return to normal when they ring in the new year.  The next three months, however, are going to be rough.

"It's going to be hard, very hard," said Phillips. "I'm very close to the track and even when they don't blow the horn, the sounds are very loud."

But residents say a little peace and quiet is a small sacrifice to keep their families safe.

Union Pacific tried blowing whistles at every railroad crossing last year.  They report that there were no truck-train collisions during that period.

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