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Trains passing some Orange County homes will stop blasting horns

January 18, 2012 |  5:08 pm

Jim Owens
Orange County transportation officials announced Wednesday that many trains will no longer blast "choo-choo" as they approach a crossing, part of an effort to silence train horns throughout the largely residential region.

It's all thanks to an $85-million project that also included other improvements to 52 railroad crossings such as better warnings, synchronized traffic signals, additional gate arms and raised medians that help hinder motorists from driving around the stop.

Once those improvements were made, affected cities were eligible to apply to be in a "quiet zone," said Laura Scheper of the Orange County Transportation Authority.

Train engineers normally need to blow their horns up to four times when they approach a crossing, but in a quiet zone they are required to only use their horn under rare circumstances such as an emergency or a pedestrian on the track, Scheper said.

The cities of Anaheim, Orange, San Clemente and  Tustin already have received approval for quiet zones, and Scheper said other cities such as Irvine, San Juan Capistrano and Santa Ana are likely to soon follow.


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Photo: Orange resident Jim Owens holds his store-bought decibel meter while standing near the tracks as freight train blows its ear-piercing whistle in 2006. The retired labor relations executive lobbied to establish quiet zones.

Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times