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CCDC Delays Downtown Quiet Zone

Aired 3/21/12 on KPBS News.

A "quiet zone" for trains that traverse downtown San Diego is being delayed until May.

— Downtown San Diego residents who yearn for quiet nights of sleep will have to wait another two months before early morning freight trains mute their horns. Downtown redevelopment officials now say their "quiet zone" for trains won't begin until May.

There are 15 downtown intersections where overnight trains have to blast their horns to warn cars and pedestrians. Kim Kilkenny, chairman of the Center City Development Corporation, said he had hoped those horns would be silent this month.

Late-night freight trains have been a noisy nuisance in downtown San Diego.
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Above: Late-night freight trains have been a noisy nuisance in downtown San Diego.

But Kilkenny adds that when the quiet zone is established, it'll be big.

"To the best of my knowledge this is the biggest urban quiet zone anywhere in the United States," he said.

For years, downtown residents and hotel guests have complained of being rousted from their sleep by freight trains that traverse downtown every night at 2 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.

Gary Smith, head of the San Diego Downtown Residents Group, said regulations have required trains to blow their horns when they're within 1,600 feet of each intersection. Given the number of downtown intersections, he said that means the trains basically blow their horns non-stop.

"If you sit anywhere near there at 2 o'clock in the morning it'll roll you out of bed and bounce you off the floor a few times," he added.

But Kim Kilkenny said the city can mute those train horns, and keep the tracks safe, by adding more traffic gates at grade crossings and replacing the street-based warning bells.

"The bells are replaced by electronic horns that are directional," he said, referring to the fact that new horns will toot in the directions of cars and pedestrians, not the surrounding environment.

Kilkenny said delays in receiving and installing equipment have delayed the establishment of the downtown quiet zone. But he said once all is in place in May, he's expecting federal approval of new safety equipment and a silencing of overnight train horns in downtown San Diego.

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Avatar for user 'dpriver'

dpriver | March 22, 2012 at 3:49 p.m. ― 5 years ago

We who live downtown have lived with one quiet zone delay after another. Not the least bit surprised at this one. There's always some excuse for failure. There's no reason to trust that there will be any more accuracy to the May date prediction than to any of the myriad other failed predictions. So, don't count on this one being correct either.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 22, 2012 at 6:33 p.m. ― 5 years ago

I don't get it, I thought the state adopted legislation that eliminates CCDC?

When does this happen?

The CCDC website says nothing about this, and I continually see the CCDC quoted in news articles with no mention of them going away.

Is there a deadline?

Perhaps they are simply delaying doing this or anything else because they know they are bing phased out?

If this is the case, it's not right to pay these officials in the interim if all they are planning on doing is riding out their last months by doing nothing and collecting hefty pay.

KPBS, please look into this.

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