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By Eric Heinz
Audible warning systems at railroad crossings throughout San Clemente, which were long desired by the city, are finally coming online.
The main partner in the process has been the Orange County Transportation Authority, who provided funding and the audible warning system. It’ll do away with regular-sounding train horns in lieu of more targeted alerts.
“What will happen is there’s an indicator that is working, and in addition to the gates and bells and whistles, the system will produce a lower sound level than the train,” said Tom Bonigut, San Clemente Deputy Public Works Director. “The expectation is that instead of having that jarring train horn, it will be a localized direct sound at the crossing. Nearby businesses may hear the sound coming from it, but it’ll be almost like background or reduced level to the train horn.”
The project, which included the necessary fencing and mitigation, cost about $5 million in total, with Orange County Transportation Authority covering most of the costs. The city was unable to get the systems up as soon as planned. Federal regulations require train conductors to sound the horns when they pass through a crossing, but the city was able to obtain a waiver by putting in safety measures around the crossings.
Bonigut said train conductors can still blare their horns if they believe there is a safety issue near the crossing, regardless of any waivers, quiet zones or the like.
The systems will be operating before midnight on June 24. A ribbon cutting ceremony is to take place at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 30, at the Dije Court Crossing.