Q: Raymond Hewitt of Riverside asks why Riverside still has horns installed at the railroad crossing on Palm Avenue. They’ve been there for many years but were supposed to be temporary, he said, and noise travels well beyond the track area and into the neighborhood. He said the area was supposed to become a so-called Quiet Zone.
A: First, a brief explanation: Riverside is mitigating noise pollution from trains that run through the city by implementing a series of Quiet Zones. These zones help to reduce train horn noise by eliminating the need for the trains to routinely sound their horns, unless there’s a hazard on or near the tracks. Two Quiet Zones went into effect in 2016 at various intersections along train tracks in Riverside.
Palm Avenue is included in a planned third Quiet Zone. Work is in progress on this project, which is in the final stage and was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, said Farshid Mohammadi, engineering manager with the city of Riverside Public Works Department. “We expect to complete the project by December of 2023,” he said.
Nathan Mustafa, Riverside’s Deputy Public Works director explained the project. It includes reducing the width of Palm Avenue on the north side of the crossing to match the roadway elsewhere along Palm Avenue. The existing gates will be removed and four new, updated gates will be installed to completely block the road when trains go through. The city also will install new fencing and reconstruct the concrete sidewalk, curb and gutter on the west side of the crossing. There will be no sidewalk on the east side. After these improvements are done and reviewed by the appropriate regulatory agencies, Mustafa said, the Quiet Zone can go into effect.
“The city will announce a date when the time comes, and at that point the wayside horns will no longer sound at the crossing,” Mustafa said, adding that the trains will only need to sound their horns if there’s a safety issue on or near the tracks. The bells will continue to sound at the crossing.
More information and a video about Riverside’s Quiet Zones can be found at https://riversideca.gov/publicworks/quietzone.asp.
More on railroads crossings
While we are on the subject of railroad crossings, do you know what to do if your car gets stuck at one? Leave your vehicle immediately, your life could depend on it.
The Riverside County Transportation Commission offers safety tips for this scenario.
After you and your passengers are out of the stuck vehicle and safely away, look for the blue and white Emergency Notification System sign posted at or near the crossing. Look for the emergency phone number and the crossing’s U.S. Department of Transportation and California Public Utilities Commission numbers. Call the toll-free number and give the operator the crossing number so they know your location and can alert a train traffic dispatcher. If you can’t find the sign immediately, call 911.
Remember the only safe place to cross train tracks is at a designated crossing. A train can take a full mile or more to stop. Trains also hang over the tracks at least 3 feet in both directions, so if your car is next to the tracks or close to the tracks, the car could be hit. Also, never walk around or behind lowered gates at a train crossing.
Do you commute to work in the Inland Empire? Spend a lot of time in your vehicle? Have questions about driving, freeways, toll roads or parking? If so, write or call On the Road and we’ll try to answer your questions. Please include your question or issue, name, city of residence, phone number and email address. Write email@example.com or call 951-368-9670.