Last year the residents of El Sereno celebrated the opening of a long-awaited Valley Boulevard bridge over the train tracks near Mariana Avenue. The $54 million Valley Grade Separation Bridge was supposed to eliminate the daily traffic jams and blaring train horns every time a Union Pacific freight train – as many as 30 a day – rumbled through the crossing. The new bridge may have improved Valley Boulevard traffic but it has been far less effective in reducing train-related noise across El Sereno and Hillside Village. Engineers are still required by federal law to blast those horns at four other crossings between Alhambra and Mission Road in Lincoln Heights and also when train crews spot maintenance workers or anyone else walking along the tracks, said Rick Coca, spokesman for Councilman Jose Huizar.
In order to get El Sereno some train-horn relief, Huizar has instructed city staff to apply for a federal “Quiet Zone” through El Sereno.
The zone would cut down on all that honking but it would require federal review and the installation of new safety measures – including warning signs and quad crossing gates - at crossings, according to the City Council motion introduced by Huizar. The City Council voted in favor of the motion but it’s not clear how long it would take for the Federal Railroad Agency to make a decision once the application is submitted, so those train horns will keep reverberating through the canyons and valleys of El Sereno for some time to come. Said Coca:
This is just the first step in a series of processes that we have to go through, but the Councilmember is hoping that after long last, we can give people some relief. The bridge has certainly made life a little easier for El Sereno residents and our emergency personnel, but if we could reduce a significant amount of the train horns blowing, that would be great relief for the community.