Funding to fight train noise could make some San Jose neighborhoods much quieter

Funding to fight train noise could make some San Jose neighborhoods much quieter
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By Wesley Severson - Published on November 16, 2021.

Train noise in San Jose and other South Bay cities has been a problem for years, with residents battling railroad companies and regulations over train horns at the numerous street-level crossings. But now, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren says she’s working with city officials to tap into billions of dollars in federal transportation money that is earmarked to deal with the elimination of railroad crossings which would stop those loud horns. Rep. Lofgren has her eyes on funds from a one trillion-dollar infrastructure bill that was just passed in Washinton, D.C.

$3 billion in competitive grants are apparently available for railroad crossing elimination. “We know that that’s a problem here in San Jose and we know that we need to have some quiet zones in Japantown and some other areas,” Lofgren told KPIX. “I’m going to be working with the mayor and with the county supervisors to make sure that we get our applications in and, hopefully, we get funding so that people can sleep at night,” Lofgren said. The noisy Union Pacific railroad runs through Japantown at Jackson and 7th Streets, an area loaded with apartments and condos.

According to KPIX, San Jose has been battling Union Pacific since June over its increased train use and the extra train noise in Japantown, even going as far as threatening legal action against the rail line. Federal law requires Union Pacific to use its horns at all railroad crossings but they often go beyond 100db and are blared at all times of the night and day. San Jose took the noise issue into its own hands passing a temporary plan in September. The city is now in the process of implementing a plan that will force trains to stop using their horns over a two-mile stretch of San Jose from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. According to the city’s website, It’s expected to start in February. “We know residents’ sleep and mental health are being tested nightly,” the city says on the site.

The money that Rep. Lofgren is trying to secure would be used to build railroad tunnels and bridges that would get rid of many of the street crossings altogether, which in turn, would eliminate the need to use train horns. If all goes as planned, we can expect to see the infrastructure popping up sometime after 2024. “Congresswoman Lofgren is very present and active in wanting to resolve the issue. It seems like there is good momentum going forward now,” Community activist Chris Wemp told KPIX.