FRA Quiet Zone rule is an unfunded Federal mandate. It forces local communities to either pay for grade-crossing improvements, or else be subjected to 96+ decibel horn blasts. Senators Udall and Bennet want the FRA to show more flexibility. Here is the response from Administrator Joseph C. Szabo:
We are open to the utmost, highest level of flexibility provided that an equivalent level of safety can be achieved. That’s the goal. That’s all we need is that good science be applied to show that whatever creative approach a community is choosing to use will generate an equivalent or superior level of safety.
I really don’t see how this is possible. How does a community prove equivalent level of safety when the original FRA horn rule is based on junk science? According to the FRA’s own figures, the horn rule would prevent just 13 fatalities over a period of 20 years. When you consider the gigantic costs (hundreds of thousands of dollars per crossing), the cost-effectiveness of this regulation is absurd. Indeed, when you consider all the other safety improvements that might have been built with that money, the regulation is very counter-productive.