Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tired of CSX engines idling in Apex?

The annual CSX ritual of leaving diesel engines idling all night and day started again before Thanksgiving, 2010. CSX parks 3 or 4 engines and leaves them idling at the downtown Apex depot every day and night starting in late fall each year. The practice will continue well into the warm days of late spring. Even after working hours when the engines are not being used they are left running all night and all weekend with no one in attendance or at the depot.

It is interesting in this era of rising fuel costs and concerns about air pollution that CSX continues this practice with no regard to the effect on the surrounding community. One of the engines is left running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is not even used. It just sites there running, running and running.

Sit in one of the downtown restaurants or walk along the Salem Street sidewalks and you will quickly discover a loud rumbling that never goes away. And you will often smell the noxious odor of diesel fumes drifting through the air. Eventually you may realize that the rumbling never ends and there are no "quiet times" in the downtown community.

Take that view a few blocks away from the downtown area and you will discover that in any home east or west in a several block radius from the depot has the same constant rumbling to deal with. On many days and nights there is the same noxious odor of diesel fumes in the air surrounding the homes. Imagine having to live in this area and hearing this every day, every winter. Imagine the effect new homeowners moving into homes being built in the Villages of Apex and having to live with the constant background rumble of engines sitting nearby most of the year.

Town Manager Bruce Radford (Email the Apex Town Manager) and Town Council representatives (Email the Apex Town Council) have been asked many times to require CSX officials to turn off the idling engines when they are not being used. The usual response is that the noise level does not show up on the Town's noise level monitoring device (Mr. Radford actually asked the police to measure the noise level a year ago at the intersection of Center and Mason Streets) or that the Town has no control over what CSX does with it's engines. Mr. Radford also says he lived near a train track when growing up and the sound of trains does not bother him. Interesting that he does not live near the area where these engines are left running all night - he chose to live miles away from the sound.

Wasting fuel, polluting the air with diesel fumes and creating a steady engine roar all night and all weekend when the train engines are not in use makes CSX an obviously poor neighbor. The roar of the engines is constant at all hours of the night and is accompanied by a frequent loud hiss of air when a pressure valve releases compressed air every few minutes. The end result is never having quiet at night in residential neighborhoods in the Center-Mason-Hunter Street depot area and beyond. For a good demonstration of the noise problem, try standing two blocks or further away along the sidewalk on Mason Street late at night and you will be amazed at the constant roar of the diesel engines and the hiss of air being released...

If you would like to help eliminate the noise and air pollution, contact the Apex Town Manager (Email the Apex Town Manager) or your Town Council (Email the Apex Town Council) and ask them to put a stop to the noise and pollution. It's a simple matter of courtesy and duty to town residents to require CSX to be a good neighbor and turn the engines off at night and on the weekend. There is no technical reason for diesel engines to be left running all night and it's an obvious waste of energy during a time when the country is trying to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

It is interesting to note that when the Town Manager was asked to investigate what the the City of Raleigh did to implement an ordinance preventing the railroad from leaving engines running all night in the Logan Station area that he says he could not find anyone that knows anything about the ban. Kind of strange that neither Mr. Radford and his counterpart in Raleigh are unable to provide information on the ban put in place by Mayor Charles Meeker several years ago.
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