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Quiet zone in the works for some Glendale train crossings

In this Sept. 2012 file photo, a Metrolink train approaches Grandview Ave. in Glendale. A quiet zone will be sought for three of Glendale’s six railroad crossings along San Fernando Road: Flower Street and Sonora and Grandview avenues.

In this Sept. 2012 file photo, a Metrolink train approaches Grandview Ave. in Glendale. A quiet zone will be sought for three of Glendale’s six railroad crossings along San Fernando Road: Flower Street and Sonora and Grandview avenues.

(Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer)

Things could get quieter along the tracks, a major relief for residents with front-row seats to the blowing of train horns 2,000 times a day or more.

With approval from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority last week for a final round of safety upgrades at three local crossings, Glendale moves a step closer to cutting the number of daily horn blasts across the city in half.

After the work’s completion, Metro will be eligible to apply for a quiet zone from the Federal Railroad Administration.

In railroad speak, that means a safe enough crossing so an engineer doesn’t have to sound their horn to alert others they’re coming.

Mayor Ara Najarian, who also serves on Metro’s board of directors, said he’s been pushed by residents and business owners for years to do something about the horn noise.

“These train horns have been blowing for 100 years or more, and the sound echoes through the entire city,” he said. “It’s most profound for those who are near it.”

The quiet zone will be sought for three of Glendale’s six railroad crossings along San Fernando Road: Flower Street and Sonora and Grandview avenues.

The length of the quiet zone would be just under a mile, but the impact will be big.

About 90 passenger and freight trains pass through the city every day, and there’s a universal protocol for sounding a horn when approaching a crossing, said Metrolink spokesman Scott Johnson.

“The pattern is two longs, one short and one long,” he said.

With nearly 100 trains daily and six crossings, that adds up to more than 2,000 honks along the track every day.

Only in the case of an emergency would a horn be sounded within a quiet zone, Johnson said.

Metrolink currently has four quiet zones in Orange County.

The latest word on the quiet zone has been a long time coming for Jolene Taylor, who lives a few blocks away from the tracks in the Pelanconi Estates neighborhood.

“You learn to live with it, but you don’t get used to it,” she said of the horns.

“I’m thrilled, I’m absolutely thrilled. It’ll mean hundreds fewer every day and every night.”

But Taylor calls the quiet zone for the three proposed crossings just a first step. She’d like to see them sought for the three remaining crossings.

Any movement on that remains to be seen, but additional silence may not even need another quiet zone.

Metro is pondering plans to close the Doran Street crossing and construct an elevated crossing at Salem and Sperry streets. If that happens, the Broadway/Brazil crossing could be closed as well.

Trains passing through elevated grade crossings don’t sound their horns, Johnson said.

Plans are still in the works for the grade separation.

Metro’s board of directors on Oct. 22 voted to spend $150,000 for back flashers at the Sonora, Grandview and Flower crossings, a drop in the bucket compared to the more than $10 million that went toward upgrades.

New safety features include quad gates to keep motorists off the track while a train is approaching.

Most of the bill was footed from sources such as Measure R and Proposition C.

Najarian said he doesn’t know for certain when the quiet zone will be in place, but things are moving quickly.

“[Metro is] working as fast as they can at this point to get it implemented,” he said. “They know it’s a priority for the city of Glendale.”

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Arin Mikailian, arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @arinmikailian


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