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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Anonymous said...

Raleigh has some specific noise ordinances that probably prevent CSX from idling. See the Raleigh, North Carolina, Code of Ordinances >> DIVISION II - CODE OF GENERAL ORDINANCES >> PART 12 - LICENSING AND REGULATION >> CHAPTER 5. - NOISE. They even have specifically how to measure the noise - which seems more technical than what Apex did.

Anonymous said...

Here ya' go: "For activities which are necessary for railroad operations it shall be unlawful for any person to cause or allow the emission of sound from the boundaries of railroad rights-of-way which exceeds eighty (80) dB(A) for daytime and seventy-five (75) dB(A) for nighttime, without regard for the zoning district of the abutting property." as quoted from Part 12, Chapter 5, Sec. 12-5003(d)of the Raleigh Code of Ordinances. See the Code for how to measure the dB.

Ewan Pritchard said...

I was really excited to hear that I am not the only one concerned about this. I live on Salem street and am listening to the high pitched drone of the engine now as I am trying to sleep, the low rumble is not nearly as bad as the higher pitch drone. I plan to mention this to Bruce next time I see him.

On our porch we get a constant black soot on everything, which I attribute to the trains also. We don't generally notice or care about the noise of the trains coming or going, or even the horns, but the idling is unnerving.

Ewan Pritchard

Anonymous said...

When will it stop. I am really getting exhausted since I have had so many nights of sleep interrupted by the low frequency hum.

Anonymous said...

Train engines are left running during the cold season, due to the fact that they have only water, no anti-freeze. If they were to be shut off they would freeze up and cause the blocks to crack. It costs more to fix them, then it does to let them idle. No I don't work for the railroad, it just takes some research.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of what some "cute" local ordinance in Raleigh says municipalities really have zero ability to regulate railroads or compel railroad companies to do anything. Not to be overly harsh but electric lines, gas pipelines, railroads, & the like are thought of as the backbone of our infrastructure thus state & federal laws protect these activities regardless of whether they wake a few people up in Apex.

Any anger directed towards the town is very misplaced.

Anonymous said...

Its always interesting to see comments from folks that obviously do not live in the areas near downtown Apex. They are quick to cite information that supports CSX leaving engines running when not used, polluting the air around the homes and stating the Town (and other organizations) cannot do anything to change the ways of "protected" railroads.

It is a demonstrated fact that the engines are left running every night and on weekends when the railroad folks are long gone and at home far from the downtown area. Porches of historic homes on Salem Street are within two hundred feet of the engines and porches and siding are barraged with soot from the engines year round. Homes on the east side of the engines are bombarded all night every night with low rumbling from the constant roar of the engines while they are not being used for productive work. All weekend every week the engines are left running again while no work is being done by the railroad.

The Town Manager and Town Council has been asked often to discuss the issue and find a way to either have the engines turned off at night or moved out of the downtown area where sound is not so much of an issue to homeowners. Consider for example along the track behine Thales School. Consider the track area south of town along old US 1. There are lots of ways to park the engines in other spots away from homes and downtown businesses... Or simply turn them off at night.

On another note, if freezing is an issue, just install heaters in the engine compartments to prevent the problem.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing that this is a hot button issue in downtown Apex but no one will do anything about it. Especially the Town Manager and Town Council. The Town could easily establish a requirement for the engines to be turned off or parked out of the area where established homes area.

This issue directly affects any development near the downtown area and will continue to be an issue as locations such as Villages of Apex are developed to provide new homes. And will also continue to affect homes and residents in the several block area bounded by Hunter, Mason, Center and Salem streets and beyond.

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