St. Charles Herald-Guide

Shake, rattle and roll

By Heather R. Breaux - August 2, 2006

On July 26, at Harry Hurst Middle School in Destrehan, parish councilman Clayton "Snookie" Faucheux hosted a town hall meeting for concerned citizens that centered on a history of complaints regarding the railroad switching procedures at the local Canadian National Railway switchyard.

According to Faucheux, the meeting was organized in an effort to establish a working relationship between CN and the residents.   

"This meeting is intended to help provide a better understanding of the switchyard operations, and open the lines of communication," said Faucheux at the meeting.

Two leading issues residents voiced their opinions on were the noise pollution caused by engine whistles and the excessive vibration caused by the operators switching tracks. 

Collectively, the residents stated that the length of the warning whistles is too long, and they are sounded in the early morning hours when most citizens are still sleeping. 

Representatives from the railroad stated that presently no quiet zones have been established in the area, and according to Faucheux, the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. quiet time ordinance for the parish does not apply to the railroad or the switchyard.     

In addition to the inconvenient noise created by the switchyard, residents like Charles and Theresa Snow of Destrehan, are concerned that the vibrations will cause foundation problems for their home.

"I believe that the vibrations from the switchyard are having an effect on my home's foundation, so periodically I walk around my property and inspect it for any problems," said Charles Snow.  

Faucheux is suggesting that the railroad move its switching operations from the west side of the switchyard to the less populated east side which is currently used as storage.

"Currently 20 percent of the yard is next door to populated areas," said Faucheux.

According to CN representatives, the railroad uses the western side of the yard because the eastern slope of the land allows operators to assemble the train cars more easily.

In addition to the noise pollution, Faucheux is concerned with the hazards that could result from chemicals, such as methanol and hydrochloric acid, which are carried in some train cargos.


"If the switchyard operations were moved to the other side of the yard, the possibility of hazardous exposure to these chemicals by our residents would be much less," said Faucheux.

Representatives for the railroad said that they would begin to investigate the complaints to see if and when any solutions can be agreed on.

Faucheux closed the meeting by thanking both the residents and the railroad representatives for their time, and stated that there will be future gatherings to continue the resident's work with the railroads.

Councilmen Lance Marino and "Ram" Ramchandran, along with State Rep. Gary Smith, R-Norco, were also in attendance. 
Most of the attendees were residents of Red Church Plantation Estates and Ormond Estates subdivisions.

Destrehan residents attended a town hall meeting on July 26 that zeroed in on railroad operations at a nearby switchyard.
Destrehan residents attended a town hall meeting on July 26 that zeroed in on railroad operations at a nearby switchyard.