OCEANSIDE — Oceanside is putting all its ducks in a row to be shovel ready for a railroad quiet zone if funds become available.
City Council approved spending $642,488 to have RailPros Inc. develop construction drawings for railroad crossing improvements, which will alleviate train operators from blowing their horns along five coastal crossings.
The anticipated quiet zone will silence horns at Surfrider Way, Mission Avenue, Wisconsin Avenue, Oceanside Boulevard and Cassidy Street.
“Every beach community wants a quiet zone,” Mayor Jim Wood said.
Approval was given in a 4-1 vote on Sept. 10, with Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voting no.
Sanchez said the costly project would only benefit a few people.
Construction of the quiet zone is estimated to have a price tag of $8 million. Borrowed Transnet funds will be considered as a funding source.
Wood said grant funds might also help cover the costs of a ready-to-go project.
“Big money does not come to places that aren’t shovel ready,” Wood said.
During City Council discussion Councilman Jerry Kern asked city staff to come back with a funding plan for quiet zone construction.
Following the meeting Kern said there have only been informal “coffee table conversations” about funding up to this point.
Oceanside looked at setting aside funds from the $5.6 million Laguna Vista mobile home park sale to help fund quiet zone construction in August 2013.
At that time city funds had already been set aside for an updated quiet zone diagnostic study.
Then City Manager Peter Weiss said it would be prudent to set aside additional money for construction, but City Council approval of funds could not be reached.
Councilman Jerry Kern had opposed setting aside money until more project details were known, and stakeholders had reached an agreement on what improvements were needed.
“We don’t have costs, we don’t have a timeline, we don’t have a budget we can approve,” Kern said.
He now says the city has a clear picture of the project.
“We’re ready to go, and know how much it’s going to cost,” Kern said.
Oceanside’s quiet zone is anticipated to be built well ahead of rail lines being doubled tracked in 2030, carrying twice as many trains through town.
Even with a quiet zone in place train operators can sound horns at their discretion.