ENCINITAS — Encinitas could see its first rail “quiet zone” — where train horns would not have to sound — in Cardiff in less than a year, according to a city report at its March 14 council meeting.
City engineering consultant Christy Villa, in a presentation of a report to the council that laid out options for achieving a citywide quiet zone, told the council that the quiet zone they are currently pursuing at the Chesterfield Avenue crossing was on its way toward completion in March.
In order to become exempt from a federal law that requires train engineers to start sounding their train’s horn as they approach each crossing, Encinitas has had to undergo a lengthy process, including approvals from agencies such as the state Public Utilities Commission to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Cities must make costly upgrades to railroad crossing points to improve safety conditions for vehicles and pedestrians.
The city is currently constructing the safety measures required at the intersection by federal and state authorities to allow for a quiet zone, which would stretch a quarter mile north and south of the intersection. Those measures are expected to be in place by January, with the quiet zone being implemented two months later.
Staff in the meeting sought guidance from the council about whether to expand the Chesterfield quiet zone into downtown to eliminate any possible gaps in a potential second quiet zone phase, which would extend the rest of the length of the city.
The Chesterfield quiet zone, which was attached to an intersection, isn’t the preferred alternative for the rest of the city because of the potential for gaps through the zone where train horns would still sound.
The council was presented with four options: continue with Chesterfield and prepare a second phase that would extend to Leucadia Boulevard; extend the current phase to Leucadia Boulevard; extend the phase all the way to Cannon Road in Carlsbad and engage the city of Carlsbad in talks about sharing the costs of such a quiet zone; or expand the Chesterfield Quiet Zone to E Street, and prepare a second zone from D Street to Leucadia Boulevard.
In the end, the City Council unanimously voted to move forward with the Chesterfield Crossing, and prepare a quiet zone that would expand from downtown potentially to Cannon Road. City staff would begin formal discussions with Carlsbad to gauge its interest in a partnership.