SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Thursday for a $20.9 million project in downtown San Diego intended to limit the noise from train horns - long the bane of area residents and visitors.
The event began with an exclamation point - a Coaster train went by and the engineer repeatedly blew the locomotive's horn.
The so-called "Quiet Zone" project will lead to safety enhancements at 13 railroad crossings, from Laurel Street to Park Boulevard
Improvements include the installation of medians, pedestrian curb ramps, roadway modifications, railroad interconnections, additional gates, fencing, paving and sidewalks.
Once the work is done the area will be a federally designated "Quiet Zone," meaning train engineers won't need to blow their horns as they approach each crossing.
Work is scheduled to be completed in November 2011.
The project is being funded through redevelopment dollars slated for downtown San Diego.
Downtown residents have long complained that the sound of train horns was preventing them from getting a good night sleep.
"It's very bad at night," said Dan Hough, who lives at City Front Terrace. "Freight trains go here and blow their whistles continuously as they go through the residential areas."
His wife, Georgia Hough, said she counted seven trains between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. the other night.
"Did you sleep last night?" is a constant joke among residents in the complexes elevators, she said.
"We're very happy to see this," Georgia Hough said. "We actually considered moving because of (the noise) but decided not to."
Downtown hotel officials say the jarring sound of train whistles is also driving visitors away.
"Residents who invest in homes downtown and tourists who spend their money here deserve a good night's sleep," said Councilman Kevin Faulconer, who represents the area.
Officials working on the project gave credit for getting the project started to Faulconer and his predecessors, Michael Zucchet and Byron Wear.
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