OCEANSIDE — Oceanside is on track to have a coastal railroad quiet zone by 2017. The city is currently waiting on word of a $1 million federal grant that will help move the $6 million project further along.
Oceanside has had its eye on developing a quiet zone since 2006. Two years ago, with the redevelopment boon downtown, concerted efforts were made to expedite the project. The city approved $600,000 for engineering and design in 2014. A project study report was done, and a design contract was awarded.
Design plans are wrapping up for crossings safety improvements at Surfrider Way, Mission Avenue, Wisconsin Street, Oceanside Boulevard and Cassidy Street. Plans will be completed by the end of the year.
Construction of safety improvements is set to begin in mid 2016, followed by an administration process to approve the quiet zone in mid 2017.
Improvements to crossings will include four-quadrant crossing arms, pedestrian gates, queue-cutting traffic signals that prevent vehicles from blocking the tracks, railroad detection improvements and new sidewalks and fencing.
Funding is being explored, including the pending $1 million Section 130 grant, which is earmarked to eliminate hazards at one crossing.
“The expected grant is specifically for safety improvements to the railroad crossing at Mission Avenue,” Gary Kellison, city senior civil engineer, said.
Additional federal funding and possible borrowing against future city TransNet funds may help pay for the remainder of the project.
Kellison updated residents and business owners on the project at the September MainStreet Oceanside meeting. An overview of safety improvements, design, timeline and funding was shared.
Rick Wright, MainStreet Oceanside executive director, said feedback was positive and questions were chiefly about funding. Some of those in attendance felt that downtown hotels should bear the brunt of the cost.
Wright said a quiet zone benefits everyone.
“With more people moving into downtown it’s an issue for residents,” Wright said. “The Wyndham has gotten negative reviews in trip advisor for the horns disturbing guests’ sleep. Both hotels (Wyndham Oceanside Pier Resort and SpringHill Suites) are offering free earplugs.”
He added another plus the quiet zone brings is added double safety gates for pedestrians in the busy downtown area.
“I’ve always been concerned how lightly visitors treat railroad crossings,” Wright said. “A
lot of people aren’t used to trains.”
The city is expected to receive notification on pending Section 130 grant funds this fall.