Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Downtown noise still a problem

Despite the unavoidable link between urban living and noise pollution, some Madison residents say they have heard enough.

The apparently increasing frequency of disruptive noise in the downtown area has had both students and Madison residents asserting that the noise in Madison has reached intolerable levels and should be curbed by the city government.

While some people are more disturbed by the racket than others, many agree the increasing noise is a noticeable phenomenon.

One particular issue drawing widespread attention is the freight-train whistle blowing as trains pass through downtown Madison and student residential areas.

Steve Rudolph, a Madison resident for over 10 years, said the primary problem is the excessive volume and duration of these whistles.
“The trains are too loud and too long,” Rudolph said. “It’s a serious problem because you can hear them from so far away.”

However, increasing track activity may be the main problem.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, has played a role in the campaign against excessive noise in response to complaints and concern among downtown residents.

Verveer spearheaded two initiatives designed to diminish some of the commotion frustrating Madison residents, including the ban on train whistles and a restriction on the hours that garbage pick-up is permitted.

This past July, the train-whistle ban passed in the City Council with only one dissenting vote and will go into effect Oct. 1. Once in effect, whistles will be used only in the event of an imminent danger.

While the ordinance passed without difficulty, Verveer is not convinced that Wisconsin Southern will abide by the ordinance.

Rudolph, too, is doubtful that his efforts to stop the whistling are finished.

“I think they’ll test the ordinance and continue to blow the train whistle,” he said. “I hope I’m wrong.”

One issue that has been resolved is early morning trash pick-up.

Last December, the council passed an ordinance restricting trash pick up in or near residential areas until after 6 a.m.

The ordinance went into effect this past February and so far has been successful, Verveer said.

“While there have been violations of the ordinance, so far the compliance among the waste-removal companies has been good,” Verveer said.

Closer to campus, notable contributors to the noise level include construction, loud car stereos and house parties. A city ordinance permits construction to take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Larger scale construction such as the Overture Project and road work on Bedford Street have been the source of many noise complaints.

Action taken for loud car stereos and house parties are at the discretion of the police.

“If the cops believe the noise is at an unreasonable level they can give the person responsible a ticket,” Verveer said. “The police have a good deal of discretion in matters of excess noise.”

Verveer also noted there has been a marked increase in noise complaints for house parties in recent years, mainly due to the fact that more non-students have moved into areas previously inhabited almost exclusively by students.

Verveer also stressed the fact that the attempt to curb noise is mainly due to the harmful effects it can have on an individual’s health.

“This is primarily an issue of health,” Verveer said. “When people’s sleep is being disturbed by garbage trucks and construction crews, it’s just not healthy.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *