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Rail News: Communication and Signal

California city creates quite zone; Washington commission installs new chairman


Tomorrow, train horns no longer will sound in Dana Point, Calif. The city has joined a list of Orange County communities that created quiet zones after certain grade crossing enhancements were completed, according to the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA).

In January, the authority completed upgrades at the Palisades Drive/Beach Road crossing in Dana Point as part of its $85 million rail safety enhancement program.

OCTA partnered with eight cities to implement the program, which involves safety enhancements — such as upgraded warning devices, additional gate arms, and extended and raised medians — at 52 crossings in the county. To date, 38 crossings have been designated quiet zones in Anaheim, Orange, Dana Point, Irvine, Tustin, San Clemente and Santa Ana.

The cities applied for quiet zone status with the Federal Railroad Administration. By law, engineers must sound their horns up to four times when they approach a crossing. If a quiet zone is established, trains will only sound their horns if an engineer believes it's necessary for safety reasons or a train is traveling through a construction zone.

Meanwhile, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has named David Danner chairman of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) to succeed Jeffrey Goltz, who will continue to serve on the three-member commission. The UTC manages the state's railroad, pipeline, intrastate bus and trucking safety programs, including crossing safety.

Danner has served as the agency's executive director since 2005. He previously was an energy and telecommunications policy adviser to Gov. Gary Locke, a member of the state's pollution control and shorelines hearings boards, and an attorney in private practice.