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Connecticut NIMBYs on Train Noise – Another Perspective

A few weeks ago I wrote a column about the NIMBYs…the “not in my backyard” crowd that moves to a house near train tracks, airport or highway and then complains about the noise .

I received a very thoughtful response from a reader that I’d like to share, in edited form, to give us all a different perspective on this issue of housing versus transportation:

“I write this as someone who lives 500ft from the Waterbury (train) branch, who regularly gets blasted by the train whistle. The situation is not as simple as someone moved next to the train and then complained about it. Sometimes people decide to live somewhere based on what they can afford.

I moved from Queens, NY to Connecticut in 1988 and spent the next 11 years renting rooms from private individuals because that was all I could afford at the time. Some houses were on quiet streets. One was 500 feet from the Merritt Parkway, which was a steady woosh, but bearable, as it was almost like white noise.

The worst situation on the freeway was when I lived in Fairfield, 250 feet from I-95. This house is near the approach to the rest area, and the truckers downshift with the resulting engine roar. The rent for a room in the house was $250 a month in 1993, but as low as it was I couldn’t stand the noise anymore and eight months later moved to a house in Stratford which was 1,000 feet from Route 8, a bit noisy due to concrete pavement at the time, but much quieter than living near I-95.

I bought my condo (in Milford) in 1999 because it was what I could afford at the time, and I still live here because moving to a larger unit (hopefully somewhere quieter ) is out of my price range. When I bought it I was vaguely aware that the train tracks were nearby, but that was not a factor in my purchase.

My living room faces the train and I can see it passing in the winter when the leaves have fallen from the trees. My room is shielded from direct view of the train as it faces a different direction and another building adjoining mine is between my room and the train, but the noise is still very loud.

Prior to recent schedule changes, the last train ran at 1:30 a.m. and the first in the morning ran at 4:30 a.m. With the new trains on the schedule, these times are now at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. My complex receives two whistles because we are between two level crossings.

While one could argue that people knew the train (or highway) was there when we bought (or leased), I can also argue that the railroad needs to recognize that a neighborhood has grown up around him and should do his best to be a good neighbor.

Sincerely, Tom, Milford

Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.