Shawnee neighborhood bands together to quiet passing trains

SHAWNEE, Kan. -- If you've ever lived by train tracks, you know how incredibly loud it can be. But one neighborhood in Shawnee decided the blares of train horns were so bad, they took action to fix it.

The railroad tracks along Martindale Road in Shawnee are constantly busy, and have gotten louder over the past 13 years.

Neighbors calculated just how bad the train crossing problem was: 89 trains a day, blaring their horns three times at two separate crossings, totaling more than 500 horn blasts every single day.

"We couldn't sleep. Babies couldn't sleep at night. We couldn't use our patios. The horns were just untenable," said Jack Tredinnick.

So Tredinnick and a bunch of his neighbors went to city hall pleading for a quieter train crossing.

"We thought all we had to do was hammer at the city long enough, they'd do it. Well, the city's been wanting to do it for a long time, but there were some problems in the way of getting it done," Tredinnick said.

To add signal arms and flashing lights in the neighborhood, another nearby rail crossing had to be closed. Doing so would block access to farm ground. So neighbors got together and raised over $40,000 to add a low water crossing access to the property.

"We thought, well, let's see if people are willing to shell out the money to do it. We went around to all our neighbors in Brittany Ridge, and went around to some other neighboring neighborhoods and we found out people were willing to, and they wrote checks and they came out with the money and we were able to do it," said Tredinnick.

The city and developers teamed up to help jump all the other hurdles with the railroad and federal government to get the quiet crossing put in.

"They never gave up and so that's why we're here today, and it's all quiet. It's because of you guys. You're a shining example of how you get things done," said Shawnee mayor Michelle Distler.

With the signal arms in, trains no longer have to blare their horns when passing by. The quiet crossing has even helped re-spark development with two dozen new homes being built nearby. Everyone in the neighborhood is now enjoying time outside and sleeping more soundly.

The project isn't done. The mayor declared Saturday "Rails and Trails Day" in honor of the community's work. The next phase includes extending area trails to connect to Shawnee Mission Park.