The railroads are some of the oldest businesses and neighbors in the East Valley. So it’s fair to say that practically everyone who lives near a set of railroad tracks knew — or should have known — what the environment would be like.
Trains make a lot of noise just when they roll by or brake, and then there’s those whistles and horns to further grab your attention as they pass through street intersections.
So when residents just can’t stand the noise pollution anymore, they should point at themselves to come up with a fix. Buy earplugs, install soundproofing, sell and move somewhere else. Whatever it takes to shed the annoyance.
But too often, people expect others to solve a problem of their own making. When complaints to the railroad company don’t work, they turn to their fellow taxpayers to make up for their lack of personal responsibility.
Tempe apparently has fallen for this trap. Tribune writer Garin Groff reported Thursday the city wants to spend $450,000 to upgrade railroad crossings along the main tracks for Union Pacific. The improvements would relieve trains from federal mandates to sound their whistles as they approach each street.
That’s $450,000 that can’t be used to hire a police officer for five years to prevent crime and to seek justice for truly innocent victims. Or $450,000 that can’t be used to rehabilitate and upgrade a city park. Or $450,000 that can’t be used to keep pace with street repairs and other issues that actually affect most taxpayers.
A city can properly get involved in neighborhood conflicts with railroads by serving as a single representative to negotiate with the company and federal government. But the residents who demand changes in railroad operations to accommodate their lifestyle choices should be expected to raise all of the necessary money from voluntary donations and their own pockets.
East Valley taxpayers in general have far more important places to spend public funds than to bail out residents who somehow missed the railroad tracks running through the neighborhood where they chose to live.