Shakopee Trains Top List of Complaints Taken by the Mayor

The tracks have been upgraded allowing larger trains to travel more often through town each day. To hear the horn, click on the video.

Thus far in Shakopee 's term, he says downtown train noise is the most-complained about issue. And he's hearing it loud and clear, just as the residents are hearing the blast of the train horns all the way through town some nights.

"It is frustrating and makes a lot of people angry," Tabke wrote in a blog post today. "Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about it."

He said Shakopee has a long history with the trains, which bring jobs and he said the benefits far outweigh the problems.

A train conductor must blow the horn at every uncontrolled road crossing for safety – typically, two short and one long. Tabke said while the solution might seem to be putting crossing bars at each crossing, the cost to the city would be more than $1 million. But that's not the biggest problem. 

"If we put in all of the crossing bars, the trains would not have to slow down when coming into Shakopee and could buzz through town at high speeds," he said. "High speeds would create an unsafe situation as well as the shaking resulting from high speeds could damage buildings and infrastructure. It is not a good situation."

Adding to the complaint level is the fact that recently the tracks were upgraded to allow larger trains to pass through town more often.

Shakopee City Councilor Matt Lehman is the liaison and representative for the city with the Train Safety Committee. Tabke recommended letting him know of any train-related concerns.

"He lives not far from the tracks and has some of the best understanding of the issues we face as a city with high-volume tracks running through the heart of our town," Tabke said.

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Penna1965 May 04, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Can we complain about 169 road noise too? I have lived in Shakopee for 15 years, in Southbridge, West End, now in the middle on Vierling. I have always heard the train whistles at night; they are especially easier to hear on the cold clear nights. You get used to them. My husband grew up in downtown Chicago and had some noise going at all hours, police sirens, the trains, the busses....he was so used to the noise when he got to basic training in the Army it was too quiet. He had to learn something new. Good grief there is nothing the mayor can do about the train noises.
RIVERSIDE May 04, 2012 at 10:09 PM
RIVERSIDE May 04, 2012 at 10:10 PM
pass out ear pugs
Penna1965 May 06, 2012 at 06:22 AM
We have two and half grocery stores. The half one being Target. Cub and Walmart are full grocery stores. Hey we are getting a Pizza Ranch.
sjr82 May 07, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Two short one long my @$$! disgruntle conductor.. totally out of control especially after midnight.
C54 May 07, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Seems like there could be some kind of compromise with the railroad. Maybe the city would put in the gates if they agree not to go the crazy speeds?? Also don't most of the trains stop at Rahr so you would think they couldn't go that fast in the time that they are in town.
Lisa Baumann (Editor) May 07, 2012 at 07:40 PM
That's an interesting idea C54- I wonder what others think? I'll see if I can track the mayor down for his reaction too.
Sandy May 08, 2012 at 12:12 PM
I grew up on 4th street. Don't remember much about train whistles. I now live on 10th and it seems louder and longer. I agree with sjr82- it is especially worst at night. Can't they use quieter whistles? When I have company stay at the house- they always complain about the trains. I can't even image how the residents on 2nd sleep at night.
Penna1965 May 08, 2012 at 01:35 PM
They get used to the noise, Sandy. My husband grew up in downtown Chicago, and when he left and went to Basic Training (US Army) it was too quiet there. He had trains, sirens, buses, honking traffic...a person does get used to it.
Kitty Kat May 08, 2012 at 04:20 PM
We purchased our house a year ago knowing full well that trains ran through town and caused additional knows. After the first few weeks, we found the sound of the horn to be a comforting and joyful part of Shakopee. We often will stop what we are doing just to listen to the train. It is like an old friend calling hello as it travels through. If the train noise would have been an issue, we would not have choosen to live in Shakopee.
Lisa Baumann (Editor) May 08, 2012 at 10:15 PM
I hear them from over by the high school and I like it from that distance. When I lived next to the tracks in Missoula, Montana, though, I swear I would bolt out of bed every night at the sound of the horns.
matt lehman May 09, 2012 at 01:07 AM
From my perspective, it really makes little sense to me that trains can make such loud noises at all times of day and night while bands at the parks or events at local attractions(raceway, horse track, etc) are restricted to certain decibal levels and only until certain times into the night (10pm). What we really have here is law inequity at multiple levels. Millions spent to cut airport noise to surrounding homes, traffic tickets to loud stereo systems and exhaust systems, yet the railroad does as it wants, when it wants with zero over-sight or accountability. We all want to be safe and hear a train coming but seriously, the lights are flashing, the crossing bells are dinging and one can feel the rumble of an approaching train for blocks. Lets talk solutions since over-sight is non-existant. Lets demand Congress regulate the decibals of train horns. I fully understand a slow moving train in a city setting needs less of a horn to be heard than a train in a rural setting moving 60mph, lets ask that trains have two horn levels, one for slow in town settings and one for fast rural settings, the quality of life for all is enhanced, safety is NOT compromised, and the railroad becomes a more respected and appreciated partner to all. Large problem, simply solution with no costs. Please contact your Senators and Congressmen and demand this simple free solution, please continue to contact myself and the other elected members of council or city staff with your concerns.
matt lehman May 09, 2012 at 01:11 AM
I tend to agree with sjr82 since there is no consistancy.
Lisa Baumann (Editor) May 09, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Thanks for that insight and call to action Matt. Now we know why the mayor said you were the one in-the-know on this issue. Do others want to chime in on these ideas? Would you contact your state and federal representatives about it? And just so I'm clear - Shakopee has lights and bells at the crossings but no crossing arms?
matt lehman May 10, 2012 at 12:15 AM
shakopee has lights and bells at all crossings, some crossings also have arms that drop down. because the speeds through town are 10mph or less (as the courts have re-affirmed) it would appear financially irresponsible to spend upwards of $250,000 city cost per crossing to install arms. The additional expenses per crossing would be paid via other tax dollars ie state tax dollars and federal tax dollars. Because Shakopee has many crossings between Marshall and Apgar St. the overall cost becomes large. I would think 7-8 crossing arms going up and down block by block would be more unsafe then the train moving at the court ordered 10mph with bells and lights. The railroad wants their profits, they can move more product faster with higher rail speeds and apparently thats their priority over quality of life for our residents. The 10mph speed is court ordered and the over blown horns are the railroads way of convincing the city to allow higher speeds via no whistle zone. BTW, the state currently has noise laws which the rail exceed, the calls need to go to the federal levels!
Ken Lehman May 10, 2012 at 01:08 AM
I believe Matt has a point about using the horn to convince the city to allow higher speeds. They never used to over use the horn before and I've wondered what changed. It is obvious that they use it for more than a crossing warning. Especially at a slow speed. In Faribault the train travels through at about 30 - 35 miles an hour with a long and a couple short blasts per crossing at we haven't had any problems that I heard of in the past 4 years. In Northfield the train is slow by Malt O Meal and lays on the darn thing at a gated crossing. So it would be nice to have some standard rather than doing whatever the engineer feels like. Crossing gates go down it plenty of time to warn people plus at a slow speed you don't need that excessive noise. Unless they play Free Bird
Ryan Schwartz May 10, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Regardless of crossing arms, lights, and bells, the horn should be sounded at crossings. Crossing signals are mechanical and electrical, and are prone to malfunction, albeit it's rare. There's nothing wrong with additional safety nets, much like for receiving weather alerts.
Ryan Schwartz May 10, 2012 at 04:19 AM
I work in the City of Wayzata, and the city has a "quite zone" where train horns are silenced between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. for the comfort of residents.
Whack Job May 10, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Lemme see. You intentionally buy a house near an active railway system and then you pee your self over the noise that you would expect? What morons... Only in Shakopee... So sad...
Lisa Baumann (Editor) May 10, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Good morning everyone! Just a reminder that this website is an extension of the Shakopee community and while we want it to be a conversation hub, we expect our community to be civil and respectful. Thank you! Ryan, the quiet zone theory seems like a good one? I wonder if Matt or someone could check on how it works in Wayzata? Or have we?
Kevin Wetherille May 10, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Councilor Lehman- Your comments are very helpful, thank you. I work in a building that sits next to the tracks, and have for 10 years. I have definitely seen an increase in the "horn honking" over the last 5 or so years. I was told that this may be the result of some disagreement between the city and railroads on the speed through town? Can you comment? You are correct though, it is too much. It is definitely more than two longs and a short...for sure. Is there anything our city can do to negotiate something with the railroad as opposed to more federal regulation?
C54 May 11, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Sorry but you really don't get use to the noise. My husband and I have lived in our home on 2nd ave. for 17 yrs. knowing full well of the train and the noise. You do get use to it in part. But in the last year or so the horn has become much more frequinte and louder. Espeacialy at night.
Roy September 16, 2012 at 11:56 AM
I was wondering if Matt Lehman could follow up on what or if anything further has been done to reduce the noise from the trains. The horn is definetly excessive and unnecessary, it is clearly not just a safety issue.
Joel January 19, 2013 at 10:12 AM
I bought a house off Sarazin, relatively far from town and the tracks. It's 4am right now and the train is blasting its horns as it does every night non-stop. I don't understand why the horn has to be so loud I can hear it through my house walls from a mile or more away?? It's only purpose is to alert crossing cars that are feet away? How many decades is it going to take for a common sense solution? I'm sure I would get pulled over for driving through the neighborhoods at night honking my horn, so why is it ok if they do it? I'd rather get hit by a 10mph train head on than listen to this stupid horn every night of my life...
Dain Deutschman October 05, 2013 at 01:54 PM
I'm near Lewis and 10th....the noise is so bad, especially at night. I really hate it. We have lived here since 2007 and it has become so much worse in that time. The excessive long honks go on for several minutes. It's constant. Waking up at 3am....I am beyond upset about this. I grew up right next to a train track....it was never this bad back in the 80's. It makes me very, very angry and I cannot wait to move away from Shakopee. Cannot stand it. It overshadows most of the positives. It is obviously worse at night...I work from home and am here all day long...I know. It's intentional and it is complete bull.


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