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Downtown San Diego Quiet Zone - 92101 Urban Living

Downtown San Diego Quiet Zone

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Does the sound of train horns wake you up in the middle of the night?

Concerned Downtown San Diego residents have joined together and started the website “San Diego Quiet Zone Project” to provide residents with information, links and contacts to help improve the quality of the Urban Living of Downtown San Diego.

Federal regulations require engineers to blow the horn no fewer than 15 seconds before they enter a crossing – two long bursts and a short one, then a last long blast until the train enters the crossing. With 13 crossings from the Little Italy District around the Southern edge of Downtown San Diego, the additional noise has stirred residents to seek some relief.

See and hear a BNSF engineer excessively blowing train horn at 3:20 am on March 4 2007, awakening residents not only all over Downtown but as far away as Coronado and Point Loma. Please click here to see the video.

After the merge of ATSF and BN, BNSF Railroad got rid of the old small eight axle diesels with the horn mounted over the cab and not much louder than a Semi and brought in monster 12 axles into Downtown San Diego. The trains were designed to go 70 miles per hour over the great plains and the horns were designed to reach out ahead of them in areas with no guarded crossings. The horns are so loud that the engineers required them to be mounted back in the middle of the engine so they would not become death.

San Diego Quiet Zone contacted City Hall and after a few months they got an ordinance to pass preventing, except in the case of emergency, the blowing of horns between 7 PM and 7 AM. When they tried to enforce it, the BNSF, backed up by the PUC, said only the Federal Railway Administration could make rules.

The Federal Railroad Administration say the horn blowing is for safety and that engineers are not out there to wake you up. For more information about the San Diego Quiet Zone visit their website here.