San Diego Quiet Zone
                                       Media Coverage

Council approves downtown 'quiet zone' for trains

Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at 4:49 p.m.

Let there be silence!

Frequent horn blasts from trains as they pass through downtown San Diego will stop under a $20.9 million plan approved Tuesday by the City Council.

The council voted 6-2 to add safety improvements at 13 downtown rail crossings and create what supporters say is the largest “quiet zone” in the country. In the zone, train engineers will have to lay off their horns, a change long sought by downtown residents, hotel managers and tourists.

Council members Carl DeMaio and Donna Frye voted against the plan because their colleagues refused to include a promise to find alternative ways to pay for the expected $60,000 in annual maintenance and inspection costs. As it stands, the city will have to cover that future expense despite already having a projected budget deficit of $72 million.

Loud train horns, which can reach 120 decibels, have been a source of consternation in downtown for the past decade as they often roused sleepers in the middle of the night.

The quiet zone project, from Park Boulevard to Laurel Street, would make safety improvements at each rail crossing, including gates blocking traffic, medians and other measures to protect drivers and passengers. The federal government allowed for quiet zones when it passed new train regulations in 2005.

Most of the improvements would be paid for by downtown redevelopment tax dollars.

The seemingly simple concept of silencing train horns became complicated in San Diego because of the many agencies and businesses that use the rail line. They include Amtrak, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, the Metropolitan Transit System, the San Diego Trolley, the San Diego and Imperial Valley Railroad and the North County Transit District.

Construction for the quiet zone project is expected to begin in August with a projected completion date of November 2011.

Craig Gustafson: (619) 293-1399;

© Copyright 2007 Union-Tribune Publishing Co. • A Copley Newspaper Site

Last modified:  Friday, June 25, 2010 03:55 PM Copyright © 2006