East Vancouver - Train Horn Noise

           Project Milestone Reached

      Recent efforts to create an East Vancouver Train Horn Quiet Zone reached a milestone on September 25, 2013, when the City of Vancouver certified, in a written notification to the Federal Rail Administration, that the improvements mandated for the establishment of the quiet zone had been completed. This official certification and ‘notice of establishment’ began a 21 day notification period allowing FRA to approve the safety improvements and established the quiet zone. After the 21 day period has expired, the blowing of routine train horns ceased on October 17, 2013.

It’s important to remember that if, in the opinion of the train operator, there is a perceived hazard on or near the tracks, the train horn will be used as a warning that the train is coming.


Final LID Assessment

During the middle of April 2014, all property owners in the benefit boundaries of the East Vancouver Train Horn Quiet Zone will receive a detailed packet of information with the final costs and assessments for the Local Improvement District (LID). Click here to review the packet of information that was distributed to affected property owners. Please note that your letter will be customized based your benefit tier.

PUBLIC HEARING: Notice of Hearing on LID Assessment Roll

6 p.m., Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Vancouver City Hall, Council Chambers, 2nd Floor
415 W. Sixth Street, Vancouver, WA.
 


    Construction for Quiet Zone

      A Local Improvement District (LID) was formed to fund necessary safety measures to establish a train horn quiet zone in East Vancouver. Work began in July 2013, along the railroad crossings at Southeast 139th, 144th, 147th & 164th avenues, in the vicinity of Evergreen Highway. Traffic safety improvements include:

At Southeast 139th Avenue
  • Installation of a specialized barrier to restrict median crossovers on SE Evergreen Highway, east of the intersection, and on 139th Avenue, south of the intersection
  • Installation of radar-controlled speed signs on SE Evergreen Highway showing drivers their real-time traveling speed and the suggested speed
  • Installation of new and upgrading of existing intersection street lighting
  • Restriping of existing traffic lanes and symbols
At Southeast 147th Avenue
  • Installation of a specialized barrier to restrict median crossovers on SE Evergreen Highway, and on 147th Avenue, south of the intersection
  • Installation of radar-controlled speed signs on SE Evergreen Highway showing drivers their real-time traveling speed and the suggested speed
  • Installation of new intersection street lighting
  • Restriping of existing traffic lanes and symbols
At Southeast 164th Avenue
  • Installation of a specialized barrier to restrict median crossovers, both north & south of railroad crossing
  • Widening of the roadway, both north and south of the railroad crossing
  • Construction of retaining walls north of railroad crossing on both sides of 164th Ave due to road widening
  • Stormwater system upgrades to meet state-mandated water treatment improvements
  • Minor restoration of landscape and driveways due to needed safety measures above

The improvements focused on safety measures designed to prevent traffic from getting around the existing gates and over the tracks when trains are crossing. Construction of safety measures occurred during July, August and September of 2013.



Local Improvement District Established for Quiet Zone

On Monday, May 20, 2013, Vancouver City Council unanimously approved the formation of a Local Improvement District (LID) to fund approved safety improvements at four railroad crossings and establish a quiet zone in East Vancouver. Championed by citizens, the LID allows 467 property owners who will directly benefit from the quiet zone to pay for the necessary safety enhancements at the crossings of Southeast 139th, 144th, 147th and 164th avenues.

Property owners will be charged an LID assessment fee based on a three-tiered system developed from a sound study showing those areas that would benefit most from the silencing of train horns. As currently estimated, the property assessments may range from approximately $744 to $2,478 (lump sum), with the properties nearest the railroad tracks paying the highest assessment. Property owners can elect an option to repay this amount over 20 years. These estimates are used for preliminary planning; when construction of safety improvements is finalized, exact assessment fees will be determined and property owners will be notified.

An LID is a method provided for under RCW 35.43.042 that allows property owners to fund a public improvement. LIDs are commonly used to finance roadway improvements, street lights and related utility installations where those who benefit pay for the improvement.

Timeline
  • January 2013 – Distribution of Informational Packets (outreach to 467 property owners in East Vancouver Train Horn Quiet Zone area)
  • February 6, 2013 – Informational Meeting
  • March 4, 2013 – City Council Workshop (City staff present results of community outreach and recommend next steps)
  • March 18, 2013 – City Council Public Hearing, LID Resolution of Intent
  • April 17, 2013 – LID Formation Hearing
  • May 13, 2013 – City Council LID Consent Hearing (public comments accepted)
  • May 20, 2013 – City Council LID Public Hearing (public comments accepted - full public hearing and staff presentation)
  • Summer 2013 – Construction of safety measures
  • Fall 2013 – After construction work is fully complete, the city will send an official notice to FRA to establish and post the train horn quiet zone. Train horns will continue to sound routinely through the crossings until the work is fully completed and FRA has certified the safety improvements and established the quiet zone.
  • October 17, 2013 – Routine Train Horns Cease Blowing
  • Winter 2013/2014 – Construction contract closed out; all costs collected and summarized; final assessment roll confirmed and final assessments calculated
  • May 7, 2014 – Public hearing to take testimony regarding the calculation of the assessments (Hearings Examiner)
  • Late May/early June 2014 – First reading/second reading and public hearing approving final assessment and assessment roll (City Council)
  • Mid July 2014 – Notice of final assessment sent to LID participants – beginning of lump sum pre-payment period to avoid interest charges (30 days)
  • Late August/Early September – First reading/second reading and public hearing approving the sale of bond to finance those LID participants financing
  • June 2015 – Billings for the first year’s assessment sent out
     
Materials/Summary

Informational Packet/Materials
In January 2013, a packet of information was distributed to 467 property owners who have been asked to indicate their opinion about creating a LID to quiet the train horns. Please click here to review the packet of information that was distributed to 467 property owners in the East Train Horn Quiet Zone area.

Informational Gathering
East Vancouver neighbors and the City of Vancouver jointly hosted an informational meeting on Feb. 6, where approximately 100 neighbors attended to learn more the updated proposal and Local Improvement Districts.

Survey for Formation of LID - Tally as of March 14, 2013
   - 467: Affected parcels
   - 280: Surveys Returned (59.96% return rate)
   - 226: Support LID Proposal
   - 54: Do Not Support LID Proposal

City Council Resolution of Intent
City Council on Monday, March 18, approved a resolution of intent to form a local improvement district so 467 homeowners near the Columbia River can pay for the railroad crossing safety upgrades necessary for establishing quiet zones at Southeast 139th, 144th, 147th and 164th avenues.

LID Formation Hearing
A Notice of a Public Hearing for the LID Formation Hearing was mailed to all affected property owners and published in The Columbian newspaper. The LID Formation Hearing hearing was held on Wednesday, April 17.

Resolution M-3789 - Formation of Local Improvement District
A RESOLUTION of the City Council of Vancouver, Washington, declaring the intention of the Council to order the formation of a local improvement district for the construction and installation of improvements at four railroad crossings to establish a Quiet Zone within the boundaries of said proposed local improvement district; setting forth the nature and territorial extent of such proposed improvements; describing the boundaries thereof; and fixing a date, time and place for a public hearing on the formation of the proposed local improvement district.

Notification Letter - LID Formation Hearing (sent to all affected property owners)
Notice of adoption of resolution of intention and notice of hearing to create local improvement district.

Staff Report, with Exhibits - LID Formation Hearing
The staff report provides a summary of the proposed Local Improvement District in East Vancouver and provides detailed exhibits for the project and formation hearing. The exhibits can be downloaded separately due to their large file size.

Background

For many years, the City of Vancouver has worked with residents on the east side of Vancouver to help quiet train horns. Working with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), interested neighbors and others, the City has been investigating the feasibility of forming a train horn quiet zone that would span the crossings from SE 139th Avenue to SE 164th Avenue. Extensive evaluation and analysis was completed to study possible solutions for the railroad crossings.

Trains currently are required to sound horns at all public crossings. For the trains to pass without sounding horns requires Federal Railroad Administration-approved improvements. The city does not have available funding resources to install the necessary measures which are required to quiet train horns.

More about Traffic Safety Measures for LID Formation

The improvements focus on approved special alternative traffic safety measures designed to prevent traffic from getting around the existing gates and over the tracks when train are crossing. Click each of the follow links to view an overhead view and aerial drawing of the safety measures.

Radar Speed Sign