Silence is Golden - DelMar Quiet Zone

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Letters of Objection and Responses

Site under construction: two letters of objection have arrived. We DO NOT HAVE permission to post letters to the City of Del Mar, CA. Please contact the Del Mar City Clerk to secure a copy. Essentially, both letters raised safety and liability concerns. The quiet zone solution is in conformity with the Federal Railroad Act (FRA). Some believe installation of a horn in the intersection will increase safety. A premise of the investigatory and design process has been to assure that safety always trumps nuisance!make your donation...

We would like to thank the following people for their gracious contributions and pledges.  THANK YOU!!

Brad and Liz Ausmus
Andris A. Baltins
Barry and Judith Becker
Andrew Benedek
Neola Benedek
Jim Benedict 
Nelson and Janice Bryne
Ronni Cooper
Tony and Susan Childs
Don and Susie Coordt
Sra. Eva G. de Garza Laguera
Del Mar Beach Villas
The Del Mar Train Partners
Craig R. Harris
Hotel L'Auberge Del Mar
Karen Angelina Kohlberg, ASID
Emmet Lamb
Ed and Dorothy McCrink
Robert B. McLeod
Geno and Penny Munari
Robert J. Neborsky, MD
Phillip L. Preach
Hershell Price
Larry D. Richards
Jodyne Roseman
Lee and June Stein
Tim Sullivan
Villa L'Auberge
WWW Foundation


What Deputy Mayor Carl Hilliard has to say about the quiet zone.

Del Mar vs. Trains - The latest developments on a quiet zone

What do train horns, rock concerts and chainsaws have in common? One hundred ten decibels of sound to be exact. This means that for Del Mar residents who live near enough to the tracks to hear Amtrak and Coaster horns, daily life can be disrupted and sleep interrupted.

An engineer can honk the horn 16 or 17 times late at night for a single train that passes through Del Mar. Multiply that by the 55 trains we have going through our city every single day and night (with prospects for more to come as the use of rail travel increases in popularity) and you could say that for Del Mar residents who live near the tracks, quality of life has turned into a honking-big deal.

To complicate matters, it’s not simple to create a quiet zone, nor is it inexpensive. Just ask our neighboring community, Oceanside. The city is currently trying to figure out how to raise up to $9 million to silence trains at five crossings. Federal grants are one consideration under debate; so are city funds, which could, of course, impact street maintenance; and then, there’s also the not-so-popular option of assessing property owners near the tracks up to $725 a year.

Establishing a quiet zone has been a hot topic in Del Mar for a while now. The original Del Mar Quiet Zone Assessment Report prepared two years ago described the challenges we face to make the current two-way rail crossing safe. The report offered preliminary cost estimates that rang in at from $400,000 to $2.1 million, taking into account the challenge of creating a quiet zone in a location where there is significant pedestrian activity, limited sight distance because of the long, blind curve and regular trespassing by people who cross the tracks en route to the beach. The report basically recommended converting Coast Boulevard to a one-way street with a unidirectional crossing that would be in effect round-the-clock.

After reviewing the report, the North County Transit District (NCTD) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) requested further pedestrian studies at a cost of $18,000 before they would be comfortable pursuing the quest for a quiet zone. Del Mar’s city manager advised against the expenditure. Instead, city council authorized Deputy Mayor David Druker to work with NCTD on an alternative plan that would focus on a nighttime-only quiet zone. After meetings with NCTD, city staff and the Federal Railroad Administration, Deputy Mayor Druker proposed another review of the site for additional diagnostic purposes.

At our city council meeting on Monday, August 20, 2007, Deputy Mayor Druker recommended moving the quiet zone issue forward by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NCTD to explore and compare two scenarios: (1) a 24-hour quiet zone and (2) a nighttime-only – from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. – quiet zone that could possibly result in a unidirectional avenue.

We expect that at the conclusion of this latest study, which will cost less than $3,500, both the council and NCTD will be able to compare likely construction costs for each scenario. At that time, we’ll know if either is affordable and worthy of further action.

There is no easy fix for the problem – at least no easily affordable fix – but there may be other ideas out there. Deputy Mayor Druker, the City Council and I welcome your feedback and your suggestions. Send them to carl@carlhilliard.com.

City Council and Staff:

Quiet Zone Committee Members