This InformSunol.org Subject Web page was updated on August 5, 2018.
Double Click on underlined blue hyperlinks to access related websites, web pages, and documents.
The following ACEForward Fact Sheet includes a phone number to call to complain about train noise in Sunol:
Sunol Quiet Zone: Subscriber Responses to Inform Sunol Surveys
Just After the Changes in Prep for the Train Quiet Zone were installed
These eleven responses to the Vol 1 Number 3 survey received between April 26th and May 11th, 2018 were about the preparations for the Train Quiet Zone. Each of these comments preceded the June 2018 date when the Quiet Zone became official:
Quiet Zone Questions posed by Vol 1 Number 3 Survey Respondents
These five questions received between April 26th and May 3rd, 2018 were about the preparations for the Train Quiet Zone. Each of these questions preceded the June 2018 date when the Quiet Zone became official, and several were answered in the May 9th, 2018 Volume 1 Number 4 article provided later on this web page:
Train Quiet Zone:
Archive of Articles, Documents, and Links
“I apologize for not coming back here to update [the Sunol Community Advisory Council (SCAC)] on the Sunol Quiet Zone,” said Quiet Zone contract project manager Bryan Pennino. “We were trying to meet an urgent schedule to quiet the trains, and we didn’t get the word out properly.”
Bryan Pennino, who presides over Pennino Management Group patiently addressed questions from the SCAC Council members and citizens present at the Wednesday, May 16th SCAC meeting at Sunol Glen School. The Manager of Regional Initiatives for Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) Dan Leavitt and Chief of Staff for District 1 County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, Shawn Wilson were on hand to support Pennino.
The current implementation of the Quiet Zone on Main Street, Bond Street, and Castlewood Drive is the only solution that could be implemented by June 30th, 2018. Nevertheless, the contractor was fully aware of the Sunol community reaction and had been provided all seventeen (17) Inform Sunol survey comments about the implementation from the V1 N3 Inform Sunol edition prior to the meeting. These and all Inform Sunol survey comments will be available upon release of the upcoming Inform Sunol website.
Pennino said that he has been on site to observe some of the issues with the current implementation and said he is committed to working toward planning and implementing two other options.
The current implementation is the only one approved by Union Pacific (UP) [and other agencies] to date and the only one that could be implemented in a timely manner. Any other option must receive Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and Union Pacific (UP) approval, could take up to a year and a half, and there is no guarantee that the alternatives will get the approvals.
Pennino said he believes that there is still enough money allocated to pursue modifications to the current implementation and he will pitch that the current asphalt berm implementation has made the situation worse. In any event, the asphalt center berm will be maintained by Alameda County Public works which will make repairs if it begins to fail.
The slide set from Pennino’s January 2017 presentation is available on the
ACEforward website and are accessible at this link. Slides 6-11 include options for Supplemental Safety Measures (SSM’s) and pictures of the Sunol and Pleasanton Quiet Zone railroad crossings.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) provides a Guide to the Quiet Zone Establishment Process.
All the improvements are installed for what is required to send a notice of establishment to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Union Pacific (UP), and Alameda County. A two-sided flyer handout supplied at the meeting highlighted that Train Horns will be restricted 24 hours per day by June 30th, 2018.
According to the flyer, the plan moving forward is:
1.) Establish the Quiet Zone
2.) Pursue approval to “Cut” an opening in the asphalt median at the Post Office
3.) Pursue installing a four-quadrant gate and removing the asphalt median
in favor of much shorter concrete medians.
A followup on the Quiet Zone will be on the SCAC agenda for August 15, 2018. Inform Sunol will continue to report on the ongoing status of the Quiet Zone and the survey in this edition offers subscribers the opportunity to comment on the Quiet Zone.
Helpful Links for More Information about Quiet Zones:
Several residents driving down either Main or Bond Street, Sunol, were recently surprised by the sudden construction and arrival of two different implementations of structures that now divide the center of each street near their commercial railroad crossings.
Visitors to the Post Office were especially surprised when they could no longer make left turns to get into our or out of the parking lot near the downtown kiosk. Though most Sunolians did not expect these structures to arrive, other citizens had been waiting for something to happen to mitigate commercial train noise for four years. In any event, the county and ACE Trains have begun implementing what is called, a “Quiet Zone.”
A “Quiet Zone” is implemented by installing road barriers at railroad crossings that will help prevent unaware drivers from crossing the tracks in front of oncoming trains. With this protection in place, trains may remain quiet within a defined zone thus relieving many of our residents, people enjoying the park and anyone downtown from the horn noise.
Thirteen months ago at the March 2017 Sunol Citizen’s Advisory Council meeting, October 2017 was the target month for the Quiet Zone to be in place. In January 2018 a representative of Alameda County Public Works made an annual visit to the SCAC meeting and announced that implementation of the Quiet Zone was progressing and would involve median barriers on the street’s center line, some berms for pedestrians, and an LED sign. “Hopefully, this year,” was the estimate for the implementation date.
Last week, social media responses to the barriers included one longtime resident reporting being infuriated with the new additions and referencing a berm that now blocks the workers and residents at the post office. Access to the Café and the D.R.T company is also impacted.
“All of Sunol is furious!” declared the resident. Similar comments were made by Sunolians who were surprised by the sudden presence of these structures and some angry residents blamed the County Supervisors.
In their defense, another Sunolian responded that the Supervisors had worked very hard for our somewhat small electorate, and while acknowledging the recent downtown changes are clumsy, it is, nevertheless, a response to over four years of combined community, county government and railroad efforts to address the rapid increase in train traffic.
“ACE and UP are required to blast their 120+ decibel horns four times at each road crossing, all day and night,” wrote a resident. “We tried to get ‘Wayside horns’ installed, but Union Pacific blocked any connections to their system. It turned out that it is possible to stop the [train horn] blasting entirely – except during emergencies – but traffic controls are a federal mandate.”
“For Sunolians who live within the range of debilitating 120+ decibel noisemakers day and night, this may seem like an acceptable nuisance because it will likely reduce the unsafe traffic behavior during commute hours,” reported the resident.
“Medically documented debilitating effects of loud, abrupt noise interruptions currently affect Sunol Glen school children and residents have been growing impatient with not having a solution for the noise,” wrote the Sunol resident.
Now, project leaders from ACE and Alameda County are working on an alternative implementation. One option involves adding a second crossing arm to prevent dangerous crossings with on-coming trains.
As more details emerge involving the next steps and implementation of the Quiet Zone, Inform Sunol will be issuing updates to the community.