Quiet Trains

Frustrated by delays, about 50 representatives of businesses and homeowners’ associations met at CityFront Terrace condos on December 8 to campaign for construction of the long-proposed quiet zone along the downtown railroad tracks.

Quiet zones require improved safety precautions, allowing train operators to forego most of the horn-sounding. Efforts to establish a quiet zone in downtown San Diego began in the 1990s. While quiet zones are increasing throughout the country, the San Diego effort is considered the largest in the U.S., with 13 street intersections affected.

If/when completed, the quiet zone would extend from Laurel Street to Park Boulevard in the East Village. The current effort (which began in the 1990s) was targeted to be completed in 2007 and is now projected to be done by 2011.

At the meeting, Centre City Development Corporation chairman Fred Maas said the City of San Diego’s downtown redevelopment arm has over $18 million to fund the project; maintenance costs are estimated at $80,000 per year. Maas also noted that the Federal Railway Administration, and the Public Utilities Commission do not want a quiet zone. Though a significant issue of liability has yet to be worked out, Maas indicated his personal support for the quiet zone and the funding commitment that CCDC has made to the project.

Gary Smith, president of the Downtown Residents Group, pointed out that increased passenger use of the rail line has added to night-time freight-train traffic, so the loud disruptions of downtown living have increased in the past decade.

Attendees were invited to sign up for one of four committees being developed to keep the project moving forward. For more information, the organizers have developed the quietzonesd.info website.

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My wife and I recently spent a week in Seattle at the Edgewater Hotel. Freight trains passed right outside the hotel day and night, but not one sounded their horn. The crossing was no different from the ones we have in San Diego, it was possible to walk across the track anywhere. The only difference was a sign saying No Horn. I think we are being sold a crock here in San Diego!

Great article! Thanks for letting me know how to get involved in a long overdue effort.

I agree, those trains are quite noisy.

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