Santa Rosa, CA – May 24, 2017 – Today, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors dedicated funding for improvements at railroad crossings required to establish Quiet Zones. Once Quiet Zones are established, Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) locomotive engineers cannot sound the train’s horn at crossings, however the horn may still be used to
provide a warning or in an emergency.
“These infrastructure improvements ensure public safety, and will allow SMART to reduce noise at railroad crossings,” stated Board Chairwoman Shirlee Zane, who is also a member of the SMART Board of Directors. “This is an example of
government creating solutions that preserve safety while enhancing the quality of life for Sonoma County residents and businesses.”
To maintain safety, the risk level of each crossing is evaluated with and without horns. To establish a Quiet Zone, local agencies must install infrastructure improvements so each crossing functions with an equal or lower risk level without the use of horns, or below the Nationwide Significant Risk Threshold.
County is going above and beyond the requirements and funding improvements that out-perform national standards,” shared Second District Supervisor and member of the SMART Board of Directors David Rabbitt.
The Department of Transportation and Public Works worked with the cities of Rohnert Park and Cotati to submit a Notice of Intent to the Federal Railroad Authority to establish Quiet Zones. The Quiet Zones will encompass 15 railroad crossings in unincorporated Sonoma County, Rohnert Park and Cotati. This coordinated
effort required diligent action and cooperative communications with regulatory agencies, and will result in Quiet Zones that SMART will be able to safely implement.
The Board of Supervisors have approved $800,000 in discretionary General Fund money for improvements related to 11 of the 15 railroad crossings, while Rohnert Park and Cotati are responsible for improvements at the remaining four crossings.
Construction of the improvements is expected to last about two months. Once the improvements are installed, Sonoma County will file a Notice of Establishment with the Federal Railroad Authority. After a brief waiting period of 21 days, the Quiet Zones can take effect.