Lake County residents want tourist train horn silenced

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. —

Some Lake County residents say one of the area's biggest tourism draws is getting on their nerves.
 
While the tourist train may be fun for visitors some residents told Channel 9's Berndt Petersen that it is a terribly noisy neighbor.
 
The train runs from a new depot in Tavares and is getting more and more popular. Officials with the train service said they expect to carry about 50,000 passengers this year.
 
Neil Bagaus runs the Orange Blossom Cannonball, the Lake County tourist train pulled by a 1907 steam locomotive and a World War II-era diesel engine.
 
But the Orange Blossom Cannonball's horn is getting on the nerves of some of those who live along its route.
 
"Each and every crossing, whether it's got gates nor not, we have to blow the whistle four times," Bagaus said.
 
And across the 4.6 miles of track from Tavares to Mount Dora there are 21 crossings.
 
The horn sound registers about 100 decibels.
 
Several of those who live near the tracks took their complaints about the noise to the Lake County Commission. The residents said weekends are the worst.
 
"On a minimum of three round trips per day, and often more, that's 144 blasts a day," one resident said.
 
Residents are demanding a quiet zone, which would mean no horns. But special barriers would have to be built to prevent any vehicle from getting around the gates. 
 
Bagaus said the gates can cost $200,000 apiece.
 
He said sounding the horn is not a choice, it's a federal law.
 
"(There's) absolutely no leeway in blowing that whistle. It must be sounded at each and every crossing, unless it's a quiet zone," Bagaus said.