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Western Railroad Discussion > Train horns starting to go silent

Date: 09/30/07 14:22
Train horns starting to go silent
Author: ats90mph

Train horns starting to go silent
Quiet Zone takes in 5 Pomona crossings
By Monica Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
POMONA - After decades of sounding deafening horns, many railroad engineers on Monday began observing a Quiet Zone that encompasses five train crossings along First Street.
The crossings are at Hamilton Boulevard, Park and San Antonio avenues, and Main and Palomares streets.

The Quiet Zone, an area where engineers refrain from sounding their horns unless they spot a person or vehicle so close to the tracks that they present a hazard, is believed by Pomona officials to be the first in Los Angeles County.

Councilman George Hunter, who worked to secure the Quiet Zone as the city's representative to the Alameda Corridor East Construction Authority, said the silencing of the horns will make a difference to those living or working near the crossings.

"It's going to be a big quality-of-life improvement," Hunter said.

It's also going to benefit residents who move into future downtown housing developments planned for the area, he said.

Some people have lived with the horns so long they don't really notice them, Hunter said. For those who haven't blocked them out, "it's one less intrusive element" to contend with in an urban environment.

While the Quiet Zone will provide some relief immediately, its benefit will be much more critical with time, Hunter said.

"(It will be) much more pleasing in the long term because train traffic is going to continue to increase in the next 10 years," he said.

For Hunter, the Quiet Zone represents the culmination of an effort that took years and which began under the tenure of the late Mayor Eddie Cortez while he represented the city before the Alameda Corridor East Construction Authority.

City administrators had hoped to have the Quiet Zone in place early last month.

The Quiet Zone appeared to have the support of Federal Railroad Administration officials but the California Public Utilities Commission had some concerns that were addressed in a meeting organized late last month.

Officials from the Federal Railroad Administration, the state Public Utilities Commission, Metrolink, Union Pacific and others participated in the meeting, Tim D'Zmura, Pomona's city engineer/public works director said last week.

After the meeting, city administrators were "cautiously optimistic" that the Quiet Zone would be implemented, D'Zmura said.

At least some neighbors noticed the absence of the horns Monday.

Students, faculty and staff at Western University of Health Sciences were talking about the significant reduction in train horns.

The back of some of the university's buildings are just yards away from the train tracks. In the buildings' 30 years of existence, the horns have at times drowned out speakers at special events, said Dereck Andrade, executive director of public affairs for the university.

Still, the university community has understood the horns were a part of ensuring driver and pedestrian safety, he said.

The city took a series of steps, including adding signs, constructing medians and restriping streets to qualify for the zone.

And a major element in the establishment of the Quiet Zone involved the Alameda Corridor East Construction Authority's installation of four-quadrant gates at all five train crossings at a cost of $3.7 million.

The specialized gates prevent cars from getting near the tracks when a train is approaching. The gates have sensors that keep vehicles from becoming trapped between the arms.

Andrade said he was in an informal meeting in his office Monday morning when he realized a train was passing through the area but wasn't sounding its horn. His office is a short distance from the tracks.

After excusing himself from the meeting, Andrade headed outside and saw a train rolling by, at a somewhat slower clip than usual, without blasting its horn, he said.

"I'm standing in the parking lot staring at this train," he said "I couldn't believe it."

Andrade joked that a few people stared back as he stood watching the train in disbelief.

Not all train operators have received notification about the Quiet Zone, however.

Andrade said shortly after watching the eastbound train pass by, a westbound train charged through as usual.

"It was blowing (its horn) like there's no tomorrow," he said.

Hunter said it will take some time before all engineers are informed the Quiet Zone must be observed.

Staff writer Monica Rodriguez can be reached by e-mail at m_rodriguez@dailybulletin.com, or by phone at (909) 483-9336.

Date: 09/30/07 15:06
Re: Train horns starting to go silent
Author: UPNW2-1083

Yeah, it's real hard to keep from blowing the horn going through there. I keep my hand on the horn button, just in case. There's still lots of people that cross the tracks through that area that are oblivious to trains. At least through the Streeter area (Riverside Ca.) there are wayside horns that blow a warning. There's nothing through Pomona, other than the quadrant gates. It'll be interesting to see what happens when the first car of truck gets hit going through there.-BMT

Date: 09/30/07 15:46
Re: Train horns starting to go silent
Author: wa4umr

"It's going to be a big quality-of-life improvement," Hunter said.

How long before someone ignores the signs and gets hit? It won't be much of a "Quality-of-life improvement" for them.

Date: 09/30/07 16:20
Re: Train horns starting to go silent
Author: lowwater

I certainly hope that among the 'costs' of this experiment is a complete and absolutely bullet-proof waiver of liability for the railroad(s) AND crews!!??

Otherwise I can quote the first lawsuit right now: "Mr. Jones, the engineer of said train, should have been sufficiently alert to notice my client attempting to cross the track in front of his train and sounded the locomotive horn in a timely manner in order to avoid the accident."

Since we all know it is only a matter of time.....

The other side of the coin: we went to a nearby town to watch our grandson (9) play in a kids football game. Not kids football, I should add, pads and tackles and the whole bit, which I have, uh, issues, with, but the way they play seems to be pretty benign. Anyway, while we were there a westbound coal empty coasted to a stop to wait for an on-time(!!) No. 6, blowing long and loud for a mid-town crossing in the process (the tracks less than 100 yards from the FB field). The setting is such that each blast set off a remarkable series of echoes from one side of the valley to the other to the hillside behind us and back. A young couple was sitting on the ground in front of us watching their kid play and as the cacophony continued the mom turned to dad said "Wow, isn't that neat?"

Yes, it was.


Date: 10/01/07 11:12
Re: Train horns starting to go silent
Author: 90mac


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