Wayside horn demonstration gives residents a preview of crossing noise

ENCINITAS — Encinitas is hosting a demonstration of a wayside horn system in Cardiff from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday to give the public an opportunity to hear what the system might sound like at a proposed pedestrian rail crossing at Montgomery Avenue.

The public is invited to attend the demonstration event near the George Berkich Park at Cardiff Elementary School, the designated community gathering location.

The test will also allow for city officials to collect and analyze data from three different horn options that will be demonstrated during the test, including a quieter, pedestrian horn option that is being used in San Clemente.

During the demonstration, the devices will be sounded numerous times and sound measurements will be taken by an acoustical monitoring firm at various positions in the surrounding area. The firm will analyze the data to determine how each sound would affect the surrounding areas.

The Federal Rail Administration allows for jurisdictions to install audible warning systems at rail crossings in lieu of requiring loud locomotive horns to sound as the train approaches the crossing.

The Montgomery Avenue crossing has been the source of much debate over the past year, as it played a critical role in the larger debate over the Cardiff section of the Coastal Rail Trail.

Originally, the City Council had preferred alignment east of the tracks, and supporters of the project favored it contingent upon the city getting the approval for a “quiet zone” designation at the proposed at-grade crossing.

Earlier this year, however, the city learned the intersection might not qualify for a “quiet zone” designation from the Federal Railroad Administration and the California Public Utilities Commission, which means that either train horns or wayside horns would blow in the area, disrupting neighbors and nearby Cardiff Elementary School.

The council ultimately switched its support to a trail alignment along Coast Highway 101, but asked staff to pursue a wayside horn demonstration at the intersection to determine how much noise the horns would generation in the area.

Demonstration event parking will be allowed in the Cardiff Elementary School lot and signs will direct attendees to the demonstration viewing area.

The public can provide comments on-site following the demonstration or email feedback to CMLS@encinitasca.gov. The feedback that is collected will be presented at a public meeting regarding the proposed rail crossing.

The date of that meeting is expected to occur in November, following processing and compilation of the acoustical monitoring data that will be collected at the demonstration.

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