The Sunol Citizen’s Advisory Committee heard a presentation at its meeting this week from staff of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC), operators of the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) service on the installation of a new rail crossing warning system in Sunol.
Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who represents part of Sunol, serves on the SJRRC board of directors representing Alameda County for the 3-county ACE passenger rail service.
Haggerty championed improvements to the rail crossing warning system in response to community complaints about noise generated by locomotive train horns and increased rail traffic from passenger and freight rail crossing through Sunol. The installation of a wayside horn warning device is installed at the railroad crossing and emits an audible warning to oncoming motorists when a train is approaching. This reduces the need for a train locomotive to sound its horn as required beyond the vicinity of a public grade crossing.
“I am pleased to work with the Sunol community and support this project which will help improve the quality of life for its residents,” said Haggerty. “We believe that the wayside horn device addresses noise impacts for the Sunol community, while maintaining safety at these crossings and does so without inhibiting passenger and freight rail operations.”
Haggerty met with local residents in 2013 to discuss their concerns about the noise and increased train activity through Sunol. At the time, ACE was embarking upon planning efforts to modernize its rail service. Haggerty flagged Sunol as an area to investigate options to improve noise impacts from rail activity.
ACE staff examined options including the wayside horn device and a “quiet zone” designation for the crossings. The quiet zone designation required extensive engineering at the crossings that would impact adjacent roadways and businesses, narrowing feasible options to a wayside horn. The community was notified and on 12/15/14 a temporary wayside horn was field tested at the Sunol crossing.
The project is being conducted in cooperation with Union Pacific Rail Road, ACE, and Alameda County. Construction will begin after the California Public Utilities Commission reviews the project and approves a grade crossing improvement permit. The cost for wayside horn devices installed at crossings at Main Street and at Bond Street is estimated at $714,000. It will be funded through Measure B county-wide sales tax funding for transportation projects. The tentative schedule, pending CPUC approval, shows construction starting April 2016 and full operation of the wayside horn device system in June 2016.
For more information on the wayside horn project visit the ACE website at https://www.acerail.com/About/Public-Projects/ACEforward/Events/141215_WSH-FAQs.pdf .