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Letter: More rules needed for trains

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To the editor,

Minnesota has a noise pollution law, yet many folks seem unaware of this. It addresses many forms of noise pollution, designates allowable decibel levels, tells us vehicle stereos that can be heard 50 feet or more away (approximately three car lengths) are illegally loud, and much more.

As populations increase and communities become more crowded, noise pollution becomes a more serious public health issue. We here in Rosemount are all well aware of the incessant train noise we've been subjected to in recent years, the many large jets flying overhead, the much heavier and increased general traffic, construction noises and the congestion and various types of pollution that come with it all.

Recently, and after years of urging, the city finally started attending local area MACNoise meetings. Had they done so all along, with neighboring cities, perhaps we wouldn't already have more than 22,000 jets flying overhead annually.

Remember that 20 years ago, we had none. And it is blissful to no longer hear incessant train noise 24/7. Continuously fragmented sleep (being woken up often and prevented from getting enough deep REM sleep) is dangerous and contributes to hypertension, heart failure, Type II diabetes, headaches, irritability and more. But the train horn quiet zone is limited, and much more still needs to be done . Why did only two railroadss agree to cooperate? Why is the "spur" running north from downtown not included? Why do different staff provide different answers? Or no answers? And why did it take so ridiculously long?

Neighboring cities established theirs some years ago, and more quickly. Additionally, trains need to slow down to 15 miles per hour while traveling through, or past, populated areas -- for both safety, and noise. They cannot be allowed to ever park cars containing toxic materials near populated areas.

An evacuation plan needs to be in place for derailing safely, should that ever become necessary, and occur as far away as possible from populated areas.

Lastly, any new trains planned need to run only along established traffic corridors, and on air (not noisy steel tracks). Europe has run these types of trains this for years. The Federal Railroad Administration site contains massive amounts of information: www.fra.dot.gov. Our city staff are well paid, and need to stop being passive minimalists. Rosemount is no longer a small town of 8,000 out in the country. They need instead to become professionally responsive and proactive leaders, working with surrounding communities always, to safeguard and protect our collective quality of life and health from being stolen from us by a few large entities with their own focus and agendas.

LK Woodruff,

Rosemount

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