Trains sound horns through West Allis 'quiet zone' after gate malfunction

Posted at 6:02 PM, Jan 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-26 19:42:38-05

Two railroad crossings in West Allis have been malfunctioning, so for the last month, neighbors say trains are sounding their horns all day and night.

Usually the area near the 68th street and 71st street crossings is a quiet zone. But because of the safety concern, the trains are required to sound their horns in case the gates malfunction.

"It's been often now at night like midnight, one o'clock, two o'clock," said Dan Caputa, who lives near the 71st Street crossing.

He says the horns don't really bother him, but he is concerned about the gates malfunctioning.

"You can just watch how fast the cars go over," he said. "They're not looking if the arms aren't down."

Several neighbors said off camera that the noise of the horns has kept them up at night. One man even said he decided to move because he can't sleep.

Over on 68th street, Carol Wood says she recently noticed the horns sounding overnight, but thought they just changed the quiet zone rule.

"The horn doesn't bother me, the noise don't bother me because I just sleep right through it all," she said.

The City of West Allis says it was notified by Union Pacific that the electrical current under the crossings is malfunctioning, possibly due to water and salt on the ground, so there's a chance that when a train comes the gates won't go down.

Union Pacific says it plans to send a crew to investigate the issue in West Allis, however they can't dig anything up while the ground is frozen.

"We're going to obviously do what we can to push them to get it done as quickly as possible," said West Allis Mayor Dan Devine. "We hope that residents can bear with us. I realize it's gonna be one heck of a headache for them with some restless nights of sleep but I'm hoping that Union Pacific can get this squared away as quickly as they can."

We did reach out to Union Pacific to see if they have any timeline on when they plan to fix the issue, but did not hear back.

A train that went through just before 4 p.m. Thursday did not sound its horn and the gates worked fine.

The city says it expects to receive an update from Union Pacific on Friday.

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