An $85 million rail safety enhancement program that led the way for the establishment of quiet zones throughout Orange County is now complete.
The program, led by the Orange County Transportation Authority, enhanced 52 railroad crossings and helped silence train horns for local communities — making Orange County one of the quietest counties in the United States.
"OCTA's countywide approach to enhancing rail safety has been one of the most comprehensive programs in the nation," said OCTA Chairman Paul Glaab, also the mayor of Laguna Niguel. "These enhancements help keep our residents safe and have the added benefit of quieting train horns in our communities."
Construction at the railroad crossings began in August 2009. Improvements included upgraded and updated warning devices, additional gate arms, extended and raised medians, improved signage and coordinated traffic signals.
OCTA partnered with eight cities to implement the rail safety enhancement program, which allowed cities to apply for quiet zone status once construction at the crossings was complete.
When a quiet zone is established, trains only sound their horns in the event of an emergency. In the absence of a quiet zone, an engineer must sound their horn up to four times when they approach a crossing.
More than 72 commuter and freight trains travel through Orange County daily, and by 2030 the number of daily trains is anticipated to grow to 108.
The program was funded by Measure M, Orange County's half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, and state dollars. Participating cities also contributed 12 percent of the project cost.
"The partnership between OCTA, Metrolink, the California Public Utilities Commission and the Federal Railroad Administration is an ideal example of what can be accomplished when government agencies collaborate," said Glaab.
For more information about the rail safety program, visit www.octa.net/railsafety.