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OC, Now with Fewer Ear Splitting Choo Choo Trains

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Things are a little quieter behind the Orange Curtain tonight--the Orange County Transportation Authority today announced that it's finished an $85 million project to keep train horns (choo-choo) from sounding at intersections around the county. To apply for "quiet zone" status, cities were required to make improvements at the rail crossings, including "signage, striping, installment of signals, raised pavement markers, automatic pedestrian and vehicular gates, modified roadway medians, fencing gates, hand railings and concrete crossing panels," reports the OC Register. In all, 52 rail crossings were improved through the program--including crossings in Anaheim, Dana Point, Irvine, Orange, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, and Tustin.

The improved aural environment in Orange County began with a grassroots campaign--Orange resident Jim Owens handed 1,000 signatures to the Orange City Council in 2005 asking for improvements at intersections in that city, helping Orange to become the first city to complete improvements at all its crossings. Placentia became the first quiet zone city in 2007.

As for funding, "About 88 percent of the rail safety enhancement program is funded through Renewed Measure M--the county's half-cent sales tax for transportation--and the remaining 12 percent will be funded by participating cities," according to the OCR. Metrolink and OCTA worked together on the plan, along with Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which added sensors, radio transmitters, and dispatchers at the company's San Bernardino facility to monitor safety. Trains can still sound their horns in emergencies.
· O.C. completes effort to silence trains [OC Register]