Railroad Noise Concerns

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The BNSF Railway runs some 1.8-miles parallel to Stage Road in La Mirada. The railroad was built many decades before the City’s incorporation in 1960, and over time additional tracks have been added within the rail corridor. The Triple Track Project, which was  completed in 2012, added a third main line track to accommodate BNSF Railway freight, Metrolink commuter, and Amtrak intercity passenger trains. Additionally, there are various ancillary tracks and rail spurs along the rail corridor, which are used for railcar assembly maneuvers and serving local businesses.

The California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has proposed using the BNSF Railway Corridor through La Mirada as its preferred route from Los Angeles to Anaheim. The City has repeatedly expressed its serious concerns regarding the potential negative impacts of the high speed rail system on local neighborhoods. While detailed project information is limited, increased rail operations resulting from the proposed high speed rail project could negatively impact La Mirada residents. The City has indicated to the CHSRA that it must build a sound buffer wall as part of any high speed rail service through La Mirada.

Railroad-related noise has been a source of concern for many years.  Train horns, passing freight trains, railcar assembly maneuvers, and railroad construction often have a negative impact on the surrounding community, especially at night.  Unfortunately, railroad operators are not required to follow local noise ordinances, but are instead regulated by the State Public Utility Commission and Federal Railroad Administration.  While the City does not have the authority to restrict rail operations, City staff routinely forwards residents' concerns to BNSF Railway, which has jurisdiction over the tracks, and follows up with BNSF Railway's representatives. 

In fall of 2012, the City received a petition with more than 700 signatures from residents expressing concerns with current and future impacts from the BNSF Railway tracks located near their homes. The petition requested the City to initiate an environmental noise pollution study to determine whether current, and potentially future, railroad noise levels are in excess of federal and/or state regulations. The City shared these concerns with local, state, and elected officials, and requested funding assistance. Click here to view a sample letter. The City Council also reviewed this item at its November 13, 2012 meeting, and approved issuing a Request for Proposals for a Railroad Noise and Vibration Study at its December 11, 2012 meeting. 

A number of proposals were received, and after a review process the City selected Bollard Acoustical Consultants to perform the noise and vibration study.  The City was notified in fall 2013 that it had received a grant in the form of Measure R funds from Metro to complete the study.  Noise monitoring was conducted in May and June 2014.  The results were reviewed at the November 11, 2014 Study Session meeting. Click here to view results of the noise and vibration study. An update to the report was given at the June 9, 2015 Study Session meeting. The update discussed the effectiveness of curved wall design, costs of various wall configurations, and the effectiveness of the proposed wall beyond the first row of homes adjacent to Stage Road. For more information on the Study please contact the Public Works Department at (562) 902-2385.

Additionally, the Cities of La Mirada and Santa Fe Springs, Caltrans Division of Rail, and BNSF Railway  completed the Valley View Grade Separation Project in October 2014.  This $65 million State-funded project, which began construction in June 2012, has reduced train horns, improved safety, and enhanced traffic circulation. 

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