San Diego Quiet Zone
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City News Service

Downtown San Diego To Become Quiet Zone

City council votes to spend $17.9 million to eliminate train noises
By City News Service
Posted on Wed, Jun 23rd, 2010
Last updated Wed, Jun 23rd, 2010

(CNS) - The City Council today established a quiet zone in downtown San Diego in an effort to limit the noise from train horns, which area residents and visitors have long complained are keeping them up at night.

A Quiet Zone would eliminate downtown train noises.

Photo by Ron Donoho

The City Council voted 6-2 to create the quiet zone.

"This is one of the largest proposed quiet zones in the country, one of the most complex,'' said Councilman Kevin Faulconer, who represents downtown.

The $17.9 million project will lead to safety enhancements, such as additional gates, road medians, traffic signals, signs and warning lights at 13 railroad crossings, from Laurel Street to Park Boulevard. It will be funded with redevelopment dollars slated for downtown.

Once the improvements are completed, train engineers won't need to blow their horns as they approach crossings in the quiet zone.

Work is could begin as early as August, with completion slated for November 2011.

Council members Donna Frye and Carl DeMaio cast the dissenting votes, citing concerns about the cost to the city from ongoing maintenance and the potential exposure to litigation in the event of an accident at one of the crossings.

"I have to look at the general fund impacts,'' DeMaio said. "I have to look at the liability and risks borne by taxpayers.''

Fred Maas, interim head of the Centre City Development Corp., downtown San Diego's redevelopment arm, told the council that the project will make the crossings safer.

"I think there is absolutely no question it will be safer than it is today,'' he said.

Dozens testified in favor of establishing the quiet zone. Most were downtown residents who said the sound of the train horns was preventing them from getting a good night sleep.

"This is `America's Finest City,''' said David Priver. ``But there is nothing fine about being awakened three or four times during the night by 120-decibel horns.''

Downtown hotel officials said the jarring sound of train whistles was driving visitors away.

"In my hotel, the absolute number one problem and complaint that we get from our guests is the train noise,'' testified Ray Warren, general manager of the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina.

Only one member of the public spoke in opposition to the quiet zone project.

Establishing the quiet zone has been in the works for more than a decade and required extensive negotiations with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, the North County Transit District and Metropolitan Transit System.


Last modified:  Friday, June 25, 2010 04:06 PM Copyright 2006