December 2011 home page


$ilence Needs Gold
Nancy Fisher | 24th Street


Grade crossing next to Powerhouse.
Photo Virginia Lawrence


The Del Mar Quiet Zone Committee has raised approximately $175,000 of the $378,317 it needs to install a directional, or wayside, horn that would greatly reduce the noise in and around our crossing. As he prepares for another fundraising push, we sat down with Hershell Price, the chairman of the DMQZ Committee, to better understand the project.

SP: Seems like a lot of money for a horn. What’s the deal?

HP: Well, yes, the technology is expensive. Engineers must be alerted as they approach the crossroad that the wayside horn is functioning properly. If not, they need enough time to default to blowing the horn manually. But it’s a lot less expensive than the first option we explored, the Quiet Zone.

SP: What’s the difference?

HP: In a Quiet Zone no horns are sounded, but to establish one a local government would have to demonstrate that lack of a train horn doesn’t pose a safety risk. Short of that, they’d have to implement measures to reduce that risk and in the case of our crossing the price tag would have been at least $1.3 million. Our crossing site presents too many challenges, including pedestrian activity, a blind curve on the south side, and regular trespassing by beachgoers.

SP: So a wayside horn is the next best solution?

HP: Yes, it’s a fixed horn installed at the crossing that would sound for 15 seconds prior to the train’s arrival at the crossing, and would be directed away from residential areas. Currently engineers sound their horns from ¼ mile away to ensure that a horn at least 92 decibels can be heard at a point on the roadway 100 ft. from the center of the closest track. The wayside horn has been proven to reduce noise by up to 85% while still providing an effective warning.

SP: What do you say to people who think that if you live by the railroad tracks, you should expect to live with the horn noise?

HP: That no one expected 55 trains per day to be rolling through blowing at 92 decibels. And that the Del Mar crossing is unique – it’s located in the very heart of our city near our finest restaurants, our community center, and our beautiful parks that host weddings, memorial services, and cultural events year round. Other cities, like Solana Beach, don’t have horns blowing at all in residential and commercial areas because their tracks are below ground level. Still others, like all of Orange County, came up with the funds to make all of their crossings Quiet Zones. It’s a quality-of-life issue. Encinitas has attended all of our meetings in hopes of establishing wayside horns or Quiet Zones, too.

SP: How can people help?

HP: Please go to our website at www.delmarquietzone.com to find the three ways you can contribute.


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