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Will the Trains Stop Blowing their Horns in Town?

City leaders have long wanted to establish San Juan Capistrano as a "quiet zone." It looks like they may finally get it.

Nearly 4 ½ years after voting to silence train horns coming through San Juan Capistrano, the City Council may finally get its wish.

The council on Tuesday is expected to officially announce to train operators that their engineers cannot blow their horns while crossing through intersections in town. The change is expected to take place in March.

“For safety considerations, passing trains sound their horns for long periods of time and disturb people from their comfort and sleep at night,” states a report to City Council.

The reasons behind the delay in getting the horns to go silent were severalfold: The railroad crossings at city intersections needed safety improvements – which have been completed – and the city’s insurer wouldn’t cover the city if it was declared a quiet zone.

The California Joint Powers Insurance Authority, the city’s insurer, agreed to remove the so-called “quiet zone” exclusion from its policy, effective Feb. 1, according to a staff report.

“The city is now covered for its exposure for liability arising from quiet zones and the CJPIA provides its members up to $50 million of liability coverage, with no additional premium associated with this coverage,” states the staff report.

The council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 32400 Paseo Adelanto in San Juan Capistrano.

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BP February 19, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Bye-bye train crews. The idiot tax payers just cleared the way for GPS crew-less trains making the railroad millions in fraud charges along the way. Now they can kill at will under the cities insurance. http://www.house.gov/transportation/rail/07-21-05/pickett.pdf Head of railroad signal union to congress ...The only modification required is the installation of two additionalgate mechanisms and a timing device that would allow vehicles to exit the crossing before lowering the gates across the traffic exit lanes.... http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&rgn=div5&view=text&node=23:1.0.1.7.27&idno=23#23:1.0.1.7.27.2.1.6 (3) The State and FHWA shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity to inspect materials recovered by the railroad prior to disposal by sale or scrap. This requirement will be satisfied by the railroad giving written notice, or oral notice with prompt written confirmation, to the State of the time and place where the materials will be available for inspection. The giving of notice is the responsibility of the railroad, and it may be held accountable for full value of materials disposed of without notice.
Matt Gaffney February 20, 2013 at 06:21 PM
It's about time.
Clint Worthington February 26, 2013 at 10:15 PM
Do you really believe that 50 million in insurance will be provided without any additional cost in premiums? The answer is simple. No. The City is billed next year for the premiums. Now, keep in mind that the railroad liability has been capped by the government at for that crossing is 200 million for passenger trains and unlimited for freight trains when the railroad insured it. With the City taking on the liability for the railroad, who is liable for the difference between the 50 million and what is not covered above 50 million? You are right, the residents. Does the City have an uninsured liability? Yep. Here is the question that no one has been able to answer for me: As the City is now taking on the entire liability for these crossings, it is now the City that is liable and not the railroad. Does that mean that the cap placed by the government for railroad liability is not longer in effect, that the City has now taken on an unlimited liability as the government has not put a cap on the Cities liability? Penny, you did not mention the $37,000.00 for insurance premiums for the 2 million in coverage, which is a cost of the Quiet Zone.
Jonathan Volzke February 26, 2013 at 10:55 PM
Who did you ask, Clint? Under the Torts Claims Act, a governmental entity cannot be liable if it constructed an improvement pursuant to approved plans and standards ("design immunity"). [15] This is frequently a technical, engineering decision. A public entity claiming design immunity must establish three elements: a causal relationship between the plan or design and the accident; discretionary approval of the plan or design prior to construction; and substantial evidence supporting the reasonableness of the plan or design. [16] The purpose of design immunity is "to prevent a jury from simply reweighing the same factors considered by the governmental entity which approved the design". [17] Under specific circumstances, the government can lose this design immunity defense. The plaintiff must establish that: the plan or design has become dangerous because of a change in physical conditions; the public entity had actual or constructive notice of the resulting dangerous condition; and the public entity had a reasonable opportunity to obtain the funds and carry out the necessary remedial work to bring the property back into conformity with a reasonable design or plan, or the public entity, unable to remedy the condition due to practical impossibility or lack of funds, had not reasonably attempted to provide adequate warnings. [18]
Clint Worthington February 27, 2013 at 01:15 AM
Jonathan, I expected this response. Both the City, OCTA, and the SCRRA are complicant in the removal of safety devices that are required for the approval of the Quiet Zone. I will give you just one example of this: The plans submitted to the CPUC and the FRA for approval (for reference the color drawings were a part of the package at the last City Council meeting), show steel tubing around the crossing gates as part of the package submitted for Quiet Zone approval to the CPUC. This steel tubing was required for the Quiet Zone approval, has been removed and the steel tubing ends cut flush with the concrete. Public Records Act requests show that there has not been any approval by the CPUC or FRA to remove these safety devices. Yet, these safety devices were removed. By the City, OCTA, and SCRRA intentionally removing a railroad safety device that is required for railroad operation is beyond comprehension. If I can find these things in less than fifteen minutes, how many others are there Jonathan? Just to give a heads up, you are quoting the wrong section of law. Railroads have their own sets of laws that are entirely different than the City and State laws. You might want to check those laws.

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