Berkeley Quiet Zone Feasibility StudyQuietzone1.jpg

In Spring 2009, approximately 44 passenger trains and 30 freight trains pass through Berkeley daily.  Passenger trains include non-stopping long haul routes traveling at up to 79 mph as well as local serving Capitol Corridor while freight trains are typically slower and longer and connecting to or from the Port of Oakland.  By 2030, as many as 30 more freight trains could be added to serve increased demand for rail transport at the Port, as regional highways become saturated. 

Residents, employees, and developers in West Berkeley have raised concerns regarding the sounding of loud horns from trains passing each of Berkeley’s seven at-grade rail crossings from Gilman to Bancroft.  As of 2005, the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) has allowed local jurisdictions to meet federally defined risk standards to permit trains crossing through to not have to sound their horns unless a specific threat necessitates it.  Trains leaving the Berkeley Amtrak Station (about 32 trains per day) will still have to sound their horns as they leave the tracks.  Click here for more information about the FRA’s Quiet Zone Application process.

In 2008, Wilbur Smith and Associates completed a Quiet Zone Feasibility Study  with final exhibits completed in Spring 2009.  The West Berkeley Project Area Commission, which is advisory to the Berkeley Redevelopment Agency, endorsed the transfer of the project to the City for implementation in their final project recommendation on September 11, 2009:

The PAC supports the establishment of a Quiet Zone (QZ) in West Berkeley. We support grade separation at the Gilman grade crossing as a related but not dependent project and only support crossing closures if required to attain financial support of this Grade Separation, supporting closure only if and when separation is completed. We support 4-Quad gates or medians at appropriate streets.  We support a 4 quad gate at Gilman until a grade separation is established, with gate relocation to a lower priority crossing at such time.   We support the City obtaining Port of Oakland, State, and Federal funding in partnership with Union Pacific and Capitol Corridor and other rail partners.  We support bringing planning of the West Berkeley QZ implementation to any multi-jurisdictional planning efforts including the UP corridor.  We are looking for increased ped and bike safety improvements at rail crossings even if they exceed the QZ scope.  We recommend the Agency refer the matter to appropriate City Departments and Commissions to frame a Council Action and implementation strategy.


Quiet Zone Feasibility Analysis Quick links

Final Report:


Draft Chapters: