OCEANSIDE — NCTD presented plans to conduct a coastal corridor study to establish a continuous quiet zone along North County rail lines at the City Council meeting June 5 at the request of Councilman Gary Felien. NCTD invited Oceanside to buy into the study.
Quiet zones establish upgraded railroad crossing safety measures to warn vehicles and pedestrians that a train is approaching without the train sounding its horn.
Currently there are 44 train trips chugging down the coastal rails a day. By 2030 there will be an estimated 76 trips a day and a horn blast at every crossing that is not a quiet zone.
The idea of establishing quiet zones is welcomed by Oceanside, however, the city has already taken initial steps to establish a continuous quiet zone along its five coastal rail crossings.
“We’ve been looking at quiet zones for some time,” Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said.
Oceanside funded a diagnostic study in 2006 and another one in 2007 to look into establishing quiet zones.
“The study would be covering what we have already done,” Scott Smith, city engineer, said. “I don’t know how beneficial it will be since there’s no money to go along with that study.”
The studies previously conducted by Oceanside conclude that the Federal Railroad Administration would likely OK a continuous quiet zone through Oceanside if safety, environmental and maintenance criteria were met.
The project is currently on hold due to lack of funding. The idea of establishing an assessment district to fund initial costs of creating a quiet zone was turned down by property owners in 2009.
In the meantime the city is working with Amtrak and SANDAG as opportunities arise to make rail improvements in preparation to establish future quiet zones.
“We’re incrementally addressing these crossings,” Smith said. “We have encouraged them to help supply the safety measures. We’re actually getting close.”
Next steps will be to secure funding to outfit quiet zone crossings and reach a memo of understanding with NCTD on crossings design and maintenance.
Felien said he was not aware of what the city had already done toward establishing quiet zones and thought the information presented by NCTD might be relevant.
“It may not be necessary for us to participate in the study if we’re that far along,” Felien said. “I’m excited we’re a lot farther along than I was aware of.”
“The main issue is to move ahead,” Felien added. “The key is to get as much outside funding as possible.”