The Coast News Group
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Wayside horn test coming later this month

ENCINITAS — Encinitas will have a demonstration of a wayside horn system at a proposed at-grade rail crossing at Montgomery Avenue in Cardiff in late September.

The City Council at its last meeting in August authorized the Public Works department to execute a pair of contracts that will pay for the demonstration itself and for the accompanying acoustical analysis. The city anticipates the contracts will cost a combined $70,000.

City officials said they have narrowed the search for firms to complete the study to two, and will sign the contracts and have the test performed later this month.

The Montgomery Avenue crossing has been the source of much debate over the past year, as it played a critical role in the larger debate over the Cardiff section of the Coastal Rail Trail.

Originally, the City Council had preferred alignment east of the tracks, and supporters of the project favored it contingent upon the city getting the approval for a “quiet zone” designation at the proposed at-grade crossing.

Earlier this year, however, the city learned the intersection might not qualify for a “quiet zone” designation from the Federal Rail Administration, which means that either train horns or wayside horns would blow in the area, disrupting neighbors and nearby Cardiff Elementary School.

The council ultimately switched its support to a trail alignment along Coast Highway 101, but asked staff to pursue a wayside horn demonstration at the intersection to determine how much noise the horns would generation in the area.

Wayside horn systems aren’t as loud as train horns and they keep the noise in the immediate area of the crossing, but the system still would subject some neighbors to noise currently not experienced.

According to the staff report, the acoustic monitoring will consist of a 24-hour baseline measurement, which will be used as the point of comparison for the wayside test.

The testing data will be compiled into a final report that will be made available to the public.