might pay for train quiet zone
By Angela Lau
May 19, 2007
may get a break from train horns if the city pairs up with
the developer of a downtown condominium-retail complex to
silence the blasts.
John DeWald, developer of Pacific Station, said he was
considering paying for more safety equipment at the E Street
rail crossing near his development to eliminate the need for
He is the first developer in North County to offer to pay
for a so-called quiet zone, said Jerome Stocks, the
Encinitas councilman who is chairman of the North County
Transit District board of directors, which owns the tracks.
Quiet zones are federally approved crossings that have
additional safety features so train engineers are not
required to give warning blasts before approaching though
they retain the option.
Cities along the rail line have been considering quiet
zones to placate residents who say the horns play havoc with
their sleep and sanity. So far, no city in the county has
established a quiet zone.
The city of San Diego may be the closest to navigating
the costs and federal requirements. It expects to install 13
quiet zone crossings near downtown by September.
In Encinitas, Pacific Station, which is expected to break
ground in six to eight months, will include 47 condos and
roughly 51,600 square feet of retail, office and restaurant
space at 687 S. Coast Highway 101.
DeWald's offer to pay for a quiet zone would be
ineffective unless the city helps him meet federal
Quiet zones must be at least one-half mile long. But the
E Street crossing is only 100 yards south of the D Street
rail crossing. To make an E Street quiet zone possible,
there must be one at D Street as well, Stocks said. The city
would need to consider footing the bill for that crossing,
and Stocks said he planned to ask the City Council to
consider the issue.
We have people from various parts of the city who want
quiet zones, but no one wants to pay for them, Stocks said.
This is a very refreshing development.
DeWald said he needed to know the price tag before making
a decision. The expense varies depending on existing safety
equipment, the way the crossing was built and its history of
accidents, Federal Railroad Administration spokesman Warren
Flatau said. Stocks said hehoped the cost in Encinitas would
fall between $250,000 and $750,000.
Cities that wish to establish quiet zones must first
assess the risk of accidents at those crossings.
The D and E streets crossings have had accidents,
according to Federal Railroad Administration records.
The D Street crossing had five accidents between 1978 to
2005, one of which involved a pedestrian injured while
stopped on the crossing. Others involved cars stopped or
stalled on the crossing. No motorists were injured because
everyone got out of the cars before the trains hit.
At the E Street crossing, four accidents occurred between
1975 and 2003. A pedestrian on the tracks was killed. One
motorist driving over the crossing was injured and the other
two motorists escaped injury by abandoning their cars.
Safety measures that qualify a crossing as a quiet zone
gates across the road.
medians that separate traffic lanes to prevent motorists
from driving around lowered gates.
to catch violators.
conversion of two-way roads to one-way.
Most cities along the rail line except Solana Beach,
which has no crossings have discussed establishing quiet
Oceanside is considering assessing property owners to
raise the $7 million to $9 million needed to establish quiet
zones at five crossings.