DEL MAR — After about five years of researching options and 20 months of planning, $378,317 is all that stands between trains and an automated system to reduce the noise made by their horns while passing through Del Mar.
At the May 23 meeting, council members authorized construction of a wayside horn system, but only after a committee of residents privately raises all necessary funds.
North County Transit District will install stationary horns permanently mounted at the city’s only train crossing on Coast Boulevard.
Quiet zone indicators — poles with red X’s that let engineers know the wayside horn system is in place and working — will be installed west of Seagrove Park, west of the railroad tracks and at the crossing.
The horns, which will mimic the sound of horns when a train approaches, must sound when a train is 1,300 feet from the crossing. They will sound at 92 decibels 100 feet from the centerline.
Engineers will still have the discretion to use their horns, especially if pedestrians are in the crossing. The system is expected to reduce the amount of noise, its level and how far and long it resonates, especially at night.
“Once we silence the train horn it will be great for my family,” said Casey Sullivan, a committee member who lives close to the tracks on Grand Avenue. “It’s a very annoying inconvenience.”
The not-to-exceed amount includes $363,317 for construction, $10,000 for two years of maintenance, $5,000 for city attorney fees and a 7 percent contingency.
NCTD indicated the estimate is conservative and could be reduced during contracting for construction.
Led by resident Hershell Price, the committee preciously raised $17,548 that was used to fund the design phase.
“We got the community behind us,” Price said. “Now here we are today and, of course, this is the hard part, the $378,000 that has to be raised.”
Committee member Larry Richards commended Price for his efforts.
“He has just done a tireless job of just keeping the ball moving and networking with everybody that needed to be networked to have this be where it is today,” Richards said. “Things do happen in Del Mar.
“The fact that we are here 20 months later is nothing short of a miracle,” he said. “The benefit is phenomenal. I do believe that we are going to be successful.”
Resident Ralph Peck sent a letter stating that no city funds should be used, a condition council members set when the committee began researching wayside horns. It is included in the adopted resolution that authorizes construction.
At the May 23 meeting, council members also voted to have Mark Filanc replace Carl Hilliard as the council liaison to the wayside horn committee because Filanc is now the city’s primary representative for NCTD.