Crews Test Equipment For Downtown Quiet Zone Project

Quiet Zone Would Be Along 2-Mile Stretch Of Tracks From Park Boulevard To Laurel Street

Railroad crews on Sunday tested new equipment along the train tracks in downtown San Diego as part of an effort to reduce train noise.

The Centre City Development Corporation is working to establish a federally designated "quiet zone" to reduce the noise level and the number of train horn blasts along a 2-mile stretch of railroad tracks.

Trains are required to blow their horns every time they approach a railroad crossing. People who live and work near the tracks said the noise can be jarring.

"In the middle of the night, we hear a freight train blowing its whistle going south about 2 a.m.," said downtown San Diego resident David Spunaugle. "Then all day long, the Amtraks as well as the Coaster[s] pull that whistle real hard. It shakes you right out of bed."

Ken Victor, who also lives downtown, agrees.

"The freight trains are the worst," he said. "They come at 3:30 in the morning. So I mean, that's a very unsociable time to be blasting sound."

The $20.9 million project will establish a quiet zone along a 2-mile stretch of railroad tracks. The zone will include 13 railroad crossings from Park Boulevard at Harbor Drive up to Laurel Street.

"The establishment of a quiet zone will allow them to stop having to sound their horns that way... absent an emergency," said Michelle Ganon, who is with the CCDC.

Residents will still hear the bells ring, but 10News was told there will be a significant difference. The bells are only 70 decibels while the train horns are between 90 and 108 decibels.

Crews spent Sunday upgrading and testing signaling equipment. They will also put in new gates, signs and traffic signals.

Downtown resident Cathie Ellis said she welcomes anything that can be done to reduce the noise level.

"That would be wonderful," she said.

Construction is expected to be completed by February of 2012. The city hopes to have the quiet zone certified by the federal government and operational within a month after the construction is finished.

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