The City Council voted 16-1 July 3 for an ordinance banning the use of train whistles 24 hours a day, seven days a week unless it is to prevent immediate danger.
The ban will begin Oct. 1 at gated and signaled crossings, giving the city time to implement a railroad safety campaign.
Only 11 crossings in Madison will be exempt from the new law.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, is the ordinance’s key sponsor.
Verveer said the huge council support for the ordinance shows the irritation caused by the whistles.
Approximately 83 percent of the city’s railroad crossings are gated and signaled and do not require whistles as well, Verveer said.
Verveer calls the annoyance of the train whistles a “public health issue.”
He said that train whistles give a false sense of security and he hopes that the new law will encourage the public to become more educated on railroad crossing safety.
Ald. Santiago Rosas, District 17, was the only council member to vote against the ordinance and said that not blowing the train whistles could increase danger at railroad crossings.
Bill Gardner, president of the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. said the whistles are a necessity and the company will not stop blowing the whistles throughout the city.
However, Verveer is determined to enforce the ordinance, whether the police give tickets to engineers or the city prosecutes the railroad company.
Six citizens attending the meeting also spoke in favor of the ordinance and one resident spoke against it.