One of the main concerns that local residents in San Rafael and Novato had in regards to the SMART Train system is the noise that could have been involved with this train. Since the intent of the system is to allow travelers and residents ease of access to the major cities in the area, it is vital that the tracks run through residential areas.
Those who own homes in these residential areas were very concerned with the requirements that have been put in place in order to keep those traveling across the tracks safely out of harm’s way.
Four Trains are expected to run every hour from 5:30 am to 8 pm. Because of the proximity of the crossings, the regulations that had been put in place would require trains to blow their horns constantly when they were traveling through the city. This noise had the potential to cause issues with sleep and health amongst the people and businesses living in and around the train tracks. Another concern among local REALTORS was the affect horns blowing would have on lowering property values, especially homes within 150 yards.
Because of these concerns, residents of San Rafael began encouraging the city council to establish ‘quiet zones’ to be established. The costs that establishing these zones is around $12 million, and will be used to put up signs, gates and flashing lights that will alert those planning to cross the tracks that the train is in route.
Currently, there are plans to place safety devices at 10 crossings, which will help discourage drivers from attempting to cross when a train is nearby.
The FRA and CPUC had originally been recommended that the city allow the SMART trains about six to twelve months before they begin establishing these quiet zones in order to determine the extent of the issue that the noise would cause. However, the City Council voted to disregard this advice and plans to have the safety measures and quiet zones in place by the time that the SMART trains are fully operational.
The movement to place quiet zones throughout the city is being seen as a victory amongst residents and real estate owners who are affected by these plans. It is the hopes of the City Council that with these quiet zones in place, residents will be able to enjoy the peace and quiet that they are accustomed to and that those looking to ride the SMART train can do so in safety.
According to the SMART policies that have been put in place, the City will assume all liability if an accident does occur on the track and they would still sound their horns if a hazard were on the tracks. While there are still some concerns that a lack of horns will cause a safety issue, the overall consensus is positive and residents are looking forward to the opening of the SMART trains.
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