Wrong side of the tracks
A Plumas Lake couple, with support from several of their neighbors, are circulating petitions for a little nighttime peace and quiet.
For them, the sound of trains running through the night is hardly soothing or romantic, at least when trains sound their jarring horns close to homes in the new community south of Marysville.
Marina Bolshakoff and her husband have been especially concerned with the noise level and initially contacted Yuba County officials to seek a solution.
They were advised to circulate a petition to present to the board requesting a so-called “quiet zone” during certain hours of the evening.
“My husband and I have been awakened by the noise of the horn in the middle of the night, and some nights it seems like a train is honking every hour on the hour,” said Bolshakoff.
It has gotten especially bad, she said, since rail traffic increased because of rerouting prompted by a trestle fire in Sacramento. Bolshakoff said it has common recently for trains to press on their horns for 30 seconds several times during the night and early morning.
“They are really getting obnoxious,” she said.
While most residents were aware when they purchased their homes in Plumas Lake that the train tracks were not far away, many were not prepared for the long drone of the train's horn awakening them in the middle of the night.
“We have lived here just a month, and no one mentioned to us when we purchased our home that the train ran 24 hours a day,” said Plumas Lake resident Charles O'Donnell. “I understand if it is a safety issue, but it seems the train noise is excessive sometimes.”
According to a federal law passed in 2005, all trains must sound their horns when approaching a railroad crossing. California law also requires trains to sound horns when approaching both public and private crossings. There are two in Plumas Lake along with the public highway crossing at Plumas Arboga Road.
The law also allows regions affected by regular train noise to petition the local regulating body, in this case the Yuba County Board of Supervisors, requesting it to start the process of establishing a quiet zone.
A quiet zone during certain hours of the day is exactly what the Bolshakoffs and others want to see put in place. The petition requests a requirement that trains stop sounding their horns from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“We are not asking the trains to stop running altogether,” said Bolshakoff. “But some peaceful hours during the evening would go a long way for those of us that tend to sleep on the light side.”
Bolshakoff said that so far about 50 people have signed the petition, but that she hopes there will be a lot more before it is presented to the supervisors, probably in May.
“We moved here just six months ago,” said Cindy Smiley. “My husband and I chose to sign the petition as we didn't realize the noise of the train was going to be so loud.”
Your Town, a glimpse at the people, places and things that make our Mid-Valley communities unique, runs every Wednesday. Contact City Editor Eric Vodden at 749-4716 or email@example.com with comments or ideas. Plumas Lake correspondent Michele Perrault can be reached at (916) 600-6814 or you may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.