AUSTIN (KXAN) - When Butch Anderson moved into a new apartment complex near the Union Pacific tracks, he expected that he'd have to live with the occasional rumble of a freight train chugging through Downtown Austin.
What he hadn't bargained for was the deafening roar of the train horn to warn pedestrians who have no business trespassing along the tracks near Fifth Street and Pressler Drive .
"It's incredibly loud," said Anderson, one of hundreds who live in the apartments near downtown. "You can hear it resonating through the whole building at various times through the day and night."
While Union Pacific said it needed to blare the horns as a matter of public safety, KXAN's investigation revealed that there was no legal reason to do so because the crossings in question are private.
Now it appears that the city and the railroad have reached an agreement that will give relief to residents like Anderson, and still protect the public safety.
Robert Spillar, the director of Austin's Transportation Department said Monday that the city is also in the early stages of turning numerous crossings including the ones at Pressler and Paul Streets into quiet zones.
"We really do need to move forward as the urban area continues to urbanize and densify right around the tracks," Spillar said.
Turning those tracks into quiet zones will require some sort of control arms to be installed at the crossing.
To address the trespassing problem, which is more prevalent a few blocks east of Pressler where the tracks run above Lamar Boulevard, the city will be installing a pedestrian crossing gate.
"It'll look like a fence gate that will open or be openable by pedestrians until the train comes," said Spillar.
The city has already started the process of installing a fence along the tracks from the Seaholm Power Plant , west to Amtrak Station.
In a 20-minute period, KXAN's cameras captured images of dozens of people illegally crossing the tracks. City officials say they once counted 600 people in a single day trespassing on the tracks.
"People not paying attention, they got there headphones, walking on the tracks, not safe at all," said Michelle Schoenebeck, who acknowledged crossing the tracks during a lunch-time run.
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