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San Rafael and Novato City Councils to Hold Special Joint Study Session on SMART Quiet Zone

Posted on May 3, 2017

Train Safety

On May 10 at 7 p.m., the San Rafael and the Novato City Councils will hold a joint study session to discuss SMART Quiet Zones, including community outreach and the timing of the Quiet Zone establishment. This joint session follows the City of San Rafael’s filing of a Notice of Establishment on April 20. The Quiet Zone can be established no earlier than 21-days after this filing.

There will be no formal action or decision from the study session, however, the San Rafael City Council will hold a special meeting immediately following to provide direction to City of San Rafael staff regarding Quiet Zone establishment. The City of Novato will also be discussing this topic at their regular meeting on Tuesday, May 9. The public is encouraged to attend these meetings.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requires that trains blow the horn before every grade crossing.  However, if approved crossing safety features are in place, local jurisdictions may adopt quiet zones that prohibit the blowing of the train horn except when leaving a station or in emergencies.  Those safety features have all been installed, and San Rafael has filed an application with the FRA to implement a quiet zone from northern Novato to downtown San Rafael.

“Our residents are eager to have this implemented and have the horns stop blowing,” said San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips. “I want to be sure we’re doing all we can to get the message out, especially to students.”

Our community’s safety and quality of life are the priorities,” said Novato Mayor Denise Athas. “the quiet zone is great, but it’s equally critical that we make sure everyone is informed and aware so they can stay safe.”

As background, in September 2016, the City of Novato requested that the City of San Rafael rescind San Rafael’s Quiet Zone application and re-apply as a comprehensive Quiet Zone throughout Novato to downtown San Rafael. In October 2016, the San Rafael City Council agreed to this request. As SMART is expected to start passenger operations soon, the two Councils will discuss the Quiet Zone timing and outreach and then the City of San Rafael will provide direction to its staff regarding establishment.

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