San Diego Quiet Zone
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Monday, April 19, 2004 9:34 PM PDT

 

Oceanside to hear 'quiet zone' proposal

OCEANSIDE ---- Oceanside seems interested in the idea of quiet trains. The City Council is scheduled to hear a report Wednesday on the idea of creating a "quiet zone" in downtown Oceanside where trains would not have to blow their horns as they approach railroad crossings, as they are required to do by federal law.

A new federal law set to take effect in December could help cities muzzle trains that travel through cities, and Oceanside seems to be the North Coastal city most interested in doing so

Existing state and federal law requires all trains ---- passenger and freight ---- to blast a warning one quarter-mile from each railroad crossing. The horn-blowing can become onerous for anyone who lives or works within a few hundred feet of a railroad crossing, but it is designed to provide an additional margin of warning to the gates and flashing lights that mark each crossing.

The new law will allow cities to stop the trains from blowing their horns in residential areas --- provided the city can prove the crossing will be safer than the national average of all railroad crossings even after horns are silenced. Train engineers would still be free to use their horns inside a quiet zone in an emergency, such as if they spot someone walking on the tracks.

John Amberson, a city transportation planner, said Oceanside is studying ways that it could ensure the safety of pedestrians if the city were to adopt a quiet zone. Amberson said it is unclear the additional measures the city would need to take, but those could include additional lights, signage or gates at each railroad crossings in order to better protect pedestrians.

Amberson said the matter is a quality of life issue.

"Most rail corridors are becoming urbanized," Amberson said, adding that silencing trains is still a long way off. "Noise has become an issue for new residents."

Oceanside has some supporters of the quiet zones on the council. City Councilman Rocky Chavez said Monday that he was a strong supporter of quiet zones.

Chavez said it was important to people that live in the downtown area and the visitors and business owners.

Councilman Jack Feller said previously that creating a quiet zone in Oceanside could be risky, even though the city has seen no railroad accidents at crossings in the last five years. However, he called the prospect "exciting," and said he had received more than 15 calls from residents on the subject after word of the quiet zone proposal became known.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said the city needs to balance safety with the nuisance concerns.

Contact staff writer Rob O'Dell at (760) 901-4067 or rodell@nctimes.com.

source:  http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2004/04/20/news/coastal/4_19_0421_16_42.txt

 

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