Residents start online petition to make San Marco a 'quiet zone'

Neighbors in historic Jacksonville neighborhood say train horns disruptive

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you live in Jacksonville's historic San Marco neighborhood near the railroad tracks, you've probably listened to your fair share of train horns.

That's why some San Marco residents have started a petition to have the neighborhood declared a "quiet zone."

While many San Marco residents say living next to an old railroad feels nostalgic, they also say they can do without the loud horn. 

“There are some that roll through here at 4:30 in the morning that will wake me up," San Marco neighbor Less Bennett said.

"They find it distracting when they want to be outside and when they want to go to bed," San Marco resident Helen Ferrell said.

“When you’re sleeping, from midnight on, you don’t want to hear the horns at all," resident Erik Simmons said.

“You can hear it all over. You can hear it going down toward Baptist Hospital. You can hear it everywhere," resident Sharon Bennett said. 

Those concerns are why residents have started the petition to declare San Marco a quiet zone by the Federal Railroad Administration. Under the proposal, train conductors would not be able to sound the horn from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., and railroad crossings would go from having two guardrail arms to four. 

“If it could quiet things down for some of the people, then I think it would be a good situation," Bennett said.

Railroad safety expert Michael Callanan told News4Jax by phone from Tampa Bay that Florida already has 18 quiet zones, from Orlando down to Miami.

He said freight trains are hauling more goods, so the chances of hearing the horn is much greater.

“They run a lot of trains at nighttime, so the frequency of trains is greater," Callanan said. "I think a lot of residents are getting tired of the horn."

A Jacksonville noise ordinance says the maximum allowable noise level from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. is 65 decibels. But between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., the levels are not supposed to go above 60 decibels.

At the railroad track crossing Nira Street, News4Jax on Tuesday measured decibels up to 87. 

If petitioners get their way, that could change.

If you live in San Marco, you can learn more or sign the online petition on

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