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Rail News: BNSF Railway

BNSF, FRA begin quiet-zone pilot project in Southern California

Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Federal Railroad Administration, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the city of Placentia, Calif., have begun a three-phase quiet-zone pilot project involving 11 of the city's grade crossings.

During each four-month phase, video cameras will record pedestrian and vehicle traffic and behavior, including any warning-gate violations.

Under phase one — which will serve as a baseline — BNSF will sound train whistles at the crossings, and cameras will record driver and pedestrian behavior.

Once BNSF, FRA, CPUC and the city determine which supplemental safety measures (SSM) to install at the crossings, they'll will begin to analyze driver and pedestrian behavior with SSMs in place and whistle warnings.

If the parties agree that SSMs met or exceeded the success of whistle-only warnings under phase one, they'll study driver and pedestrian behavior with SSMs only.

After completing the pilot project, FRA — which is in the final stages of a quiet-zone rulemaking process — plans to evaluate all data to determine if SSMs provide equal or added safety compared with whistles. If SSMs are deemed safer, BNSF would stop sounding whistles in the pilot quiet-zone area.

Currently, BNSF and FRA are studying other quiet-zone pilot projects in Spokane County and Yakima, Wash., and Coon Rapids, Minn.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/19/2003