San Clemente Coastal Train Audible Warning System Ceremony is Thursday June 30 2016.
The City of San Clemente and the Orange County Transportation Authority will hold a ceremony at 8:30 a.m. unveiling the use of an audible warning system (AWS) at pedestrian crossings along the San Clemente Coastal Trail.
Use of the much-anticipated system eliminates the need for passing trains to routinely sound their horns and localizes the warning system to rail crossings, lessening the amount of sound that travels into nearby neighborhoods.
The event will be held at the Dije Court pedestrian crossing, just southeast of Dije Court and Buena Vista.
Parking for the event is located at North Beach, next to the San Clemente Metrolink Station located at 1850 Avenida Estacion.
Paid parking requirements will not be enforced at North Beach between 7:00 and 10:00 a.m.
The AWS is comprised of stationary horns that sound similar to an approaching train horn but localize the noise to the railroad crossing.
The system is scheduled to begin operating as of midnight on Friday, June 24, at which time Amtrak, Metrolink and BNSF trains passing through the area will stop routinely sounding their train horns.
Quieting the train horns along this stretch of San Clemente’s coastline is the result of years of effort and cooperation between the City, residents, OCTA, and the rail agencies.
After planning, review, crossing safety upgrades, and approval by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) of the City’s train horn waiver application, the City was able to implement the quieter audible warning system at pedestrian crossings along the coastal trail.
The FRA’s waiver required the City to install 2,600 feet of fencing for added pedestrian safety.
The fencing was completed in late April.
The fencing is an additional safety enhancement for San Clemente’s nine crossings, added to other safety upgrades completed three years ago at all at-grade crossings in Orange County, including additional crossing-gate arms, better signage, coordinated traffic signals, and extended and raised medians.
OCTA funded 88 percent of the program cost, while cities picked up the remaining 12 percent.
The process for quieting the train horns in San Clemente was particularly complicated compared to other locations.
In 2005, the FRA issued laws governing the use of train horns at all at- grade crossings nationwide.
Those laws included implementing safety measures and warning signals that would no longer require trains to sound their horns, establishing so-called Quiet Zones.
The new rules applied specifically to vehicular crossings.
This allowed San Clemente to obtain Quiet Zone status at North Beach, where cars cross.
All other crossings in town are only for pedestrians and still required trains to sound their horns when approaching.
The City and OCTA, along with partners such as Operation Lifesaver, will continue reaching out to the community to promote safety when crossing the tracks.
Pedestrians are reminded to never walk on or over the tracks except at designated crossings and to remain vigilant about looking for oncoming trains.
With the new rules, the community has a renewed responsibility for properly using the crossings.
Also, train horns might still periodically be heard.
Even with new rules in place, the decision to blow a horn is still left to the discretion of the train’s engineer, who might blow the horn to warn off a person or animal from the track, or because the engineer determines that pedestrians need additional warnings due to inclement weather or low visibility.