The Coast News Group
Horn honks are expected to be cut in half after new software is installed for the wayside horn system at the Coast Boulevard crossing in Del Mar. The system has decreased train noise in the city but some residents complained the automated horns were blasting eight or nine times as the vehicles approached. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

Wayside horns get a tweaking

DEL MAR — It’s been about five months since the first train using the wayside horn system passed through the Coast Boulevard crossing, and so far, “many, many people are satisfied with what’s going on down there because it’s really reduced the noise coming through the city,” Hershell Price told council members at the Feb. 4 meeting. 

“However, one of the things that’s been a concern is the horns have been honking about eight blasts going and coming … sometimes nine,” added Price, who led a citizens committee that worked to have the system installed.

Price said he took the complaint to North County Transit District, which identified the problem and created new software that is set to be installed Feb. 14. It will be tested for two weeks and is expected to be fully operational by March 1.

“It should cut those honks in half, to about four instead of eight, which will make a lot of people happy that are near there,” Price said.

Residents spent years trying to find a solution to increased train noise in the small beach city.

The wayside horns turned out to be the most economically feasible. Stationary horns are permanently mounted at the city’s only train crossing.

Quiet zone indicators — poles with red X’s that let engineers know the wayside horn system is in place and working — are installed west of Seagrove Park, west of the railroad tracks and at the crossing.

The system mimics the sound of a horn when a train approaches. It must sound at 92 decibels 100 feet from the center line when a train is 1,300 feet from the crossing.

Train horns sound at about 110 decibels. Hair dryers and vacuum cleaners sound off at about 90 decibels, a rock concert at 110 and fireworks at about 140.

Engineers still have the discretion to use their horns, especially if pedestrians are in the crossing.

Funding for the $450,000 project came from residents and NCTD.


1 comment

Anton Gerschler February 12, 2013 at 8:18 am

How much of the $450K was paid by NCTD? I ask because the Leucadia Blvd. RR crossing needs the same treatment.

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