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Citizens Successful in Noise Abatement

Old Town Greens Residents Prevail with Metro

To the residents of Old Town Greens, Councilman William D. Euille is a hero. Euille sees things a bit differently.

"This is an example of citizens who knew how to go up the chain of authority, do their research and get what they want in a constructive way,” Euille said. “I just did my job as an elected official and responded to their request for assistance.”

Old Town Greens is one of the new communities in Potomac Yard. It sits between the Metro and train tracks, the George Washington Memorial Parkway and National Airport. “We kind of live in a transportation museum,” said Linda Bryce, one of the original homeowners. “We have trains, planes and automobiles.”

Residents of the up-scale neighborhood expect the noise. “After all, they were here first,” Bryce said.

What they didn’t expect was that Metro train engineers would blow their horns just before entering the tunnel in the neighborhood. “Most of the noise was going into our living rooms and bedrooms, not into the tunnel,” said Brian Detter. It was Detter who spearheaded the neighborhood effort to get Metro to stop blowing the horns in the neighborhood.

METRO SAID THAT drivers blow horns to warn anyone who might be in the tunnel. “There was really no reason that they couldn’t use flashing lights or a remote horn that is placed inside the tunnel,” said Richard Baier, the city’s director of the department of Transportation and Environmental Services. “When we were contacted by the Old Town Greens residents, we asked Metro to do just that.”

So did the neighbors. “We were told that it was a federal regulation,” Detter said. “Then we were told something else and then yet something else again.”

Detter could find no federal regulation, nor could he find any safety reason that the horn had to be blown before the train entered the tunnel. He called the New York-New Jersey Port Authority and was told that they didn’t blow horns on their trains before entering tunnels. Finally, more than a year after the quest began, Metro agreed to consider a strobe light and a remote horn, placed inside the tunnel. But the investigation took longer than neighbors thought it should.

“They called me and asked if I could help,” Euille said. “I called the staff at Metro and I guess when a Board member calls, they respond a bit more quickly than when a citizen calls.”

The strobe and the horn were both installed two weeks ago. The neighbors think that the change is dramatic. “Brian really did all of the work and figured out that he should call Councilman Euille,” Bryce said. “We are grateful to them both.”