San Diego Quiet Zone
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Downtown Residents Hope To Quiet Down Freight Trains

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Railroad Officials, Residents To Discuss 'Quiet Zone' Plans

POSTED: 5:46 pm PDT July 17, 2006
UPDATED: 6:15 pm PDT July 17, 2006
Noise may be a factor when living in any urban setting.
In downtown San Diego, more than a few people feel the noise from freight trains in the middle of the night is over the top.
Downtown noise has been an issue even before the building boom, but now that more people are living downtown it has become a problem.
However, a solution for this issue may not be too far off.
When many residents moved downtown from the suburbs, they knew there would be noise.
But in terms of decibels, resident Sandra Simmons -- who lives above the Brickyard Café -- said the noise is “nuts.”
“Deafening noise is 120 decibels and 100 decibels is a rock concert. So every night we have a rock concert,” said Simmons.
Residents are especially irritated with Burlington Northern -- which runs freight trains out of San Diego usually in the wee hours of the morning.
“You know, every time they get to an intersection, they pull that big horn and there is a lot of intersections all the way up,” said downtown resident George Messner.
There are in fact 13 intersections between the convention center and Little Italy, and current regulations require that engineers sound off each one.
Residents recognize there is a safety concern, but most also believe that the horn blowing has become worse.
“The only thing people were theorizing is that an engineer got mad at somebody. We don’t know, but all of a sudden the horns started blowing louder and louder,” said resident Pat McCarron.
Actually, it’s not McCarron’s imagination. The Federal Railroad Administration put new rules in place.
“Six weeks ago, a new ruling came out from the FRA that engineers blow the horn 15 seconds before each crossing and through the crossing,” said Donna Alm of the Center City Development Corp.
But in order to quiet the horn, safety improvements must be made to each of the 13 downtown crossings, and that has not happened yet.
The city is trying to establish a quiet zone through the downtown corridor, and that could happen in about one year.
Downtown residents, the railroad and other parties concerned will meet at city hall Monday evening to discuss the issue.

Last modified:  Sunday, December 13, 2009 05:32 PM Copyright © 2006