Help Emeryville Win State Funding For Rail Safety/Quiet Zones

Monday, January 22, 2018

On December 19, 2017, the city council gave staff unanimous direction to pursue and prioritize funding that could bring rail safety improvements to the street-grade crossings at 65th/66th/67th Streets, with the added benefit of creating train horn quiet zones.

Currently, federal rail safety law requires that train conductors blow train horns at all crossings that do not meet federal safety requirements. There are a number of requirements in terms of infrastructure and crossing usage that must be mitigated before a railroad crossing can be cleared to end the use of the 15-20 second mandatory horn. The list of requirements can be viewed here.

For years, the City of Emeryville has included the creation of railroad quiet zones as a project within our Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). To date, the city has only had a small portion of the $10-12 million estimated to be necessary to make our three railroad crossings eligible for quiet zone status.

As the city's voting member to the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC), I first learned that there would be funding from Senate Bill 1 for rail safety improvements a couple months ago. The funding requires that cities seeking money provide a match in order to secure the grant. Emeryville is applying to the state for the grant, and working closely with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) through a separate grant process to secure funding from them as the match. I am pleased to report that ACTC is supporting Emeryville and our staff in pursuing this funding. Together, the funding from these two sources would be sufficient for the city to build the necessary improvements without having to spend any additional local dollars, saving us money.

The city can only submit 25 pages in our application packet seeking this grant. Because we need to share our grant application with MTC before we file with the state, we need a complete packet by January 25th. I have already prepared this letter for submission on behalf of the Emeryville City Council.

In consultation with city staff, we have decided to include a citizen's letter along with the application and letter from council. I believe popular community support will send a unique message to those administering the state grant about the importance of this issue to residents in our community. A copy of that letter can be seen here.

If you would like to add your name to the community letter, please take the following steps no later than January 25, 2018:

(1) Send an email addressed to both Ryan O'Connell at [email protected] and John Bauters at [email protected]. Please write "Quiet Zones" as the subject of your email.

(2) In the email, all you need to write is the names of any adults in your household who wish to be added to the letter, whether you are a resident or business owner, and your physical address. We are only listing your name and resident/business designation, not your address, in our letter. We need record of your address only for the purposes of providing proof that we received your request to be added to our community letter and that you are from Emeryville if it is ultimately requested by the grant administrators.

(3) Send it to us by Noon on January 25th. Share this opportunity with your neighbors.

Some have asked me whether an HOA can sign on. Yes you may if there is a resolution from your board. Send us the resolution in support of the letter and the number of units your HOA represents and we will include that in our letter. I understand a few HOAs may take this issue up early this week.

I will publish the final community letter in my next blog post. The grant awards from the state are expected to be announced by mid-late summer 2018. Funding will not come online until the following year if our application is successful.

I would like to thank my colleagues on the city council and the great staff we have in the public works department. Together, we are working quickly on a short deadline to pull together a competitive application that we hope will make our community a safer, quieter place to call home.

Thank you to the many of you who have already emailed us in support. Together, we can make our community the place we want it to be.

Cheers,

John