Railroad Quiet Zones

A quiet zone is sections of a railroad corridor where train crews do not routinely sound the horn at railroad crossings. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) provides the requirements necessary to establish Quiet Zones.

The railroad segments will qualify for Quiet Zone designation if crossing safety improvements are implemented, such as:

  • crossing closures
  • medians
  • one-way conversions
  • pavement markings
  • quad gates
  • signs

Once the construction is completed, the FRA has the ability to approve/disapprove the implementation of the Quiet Zone. The Quiet Zone process, from initiation to establishment, can take 12 to 24 months.

Establishment Process

Any public authority with jurisdiction for the roadway may create a Quiet Zone. The public authority must show that the lack of a train horn does not pose a significant safety risk. Careful consideration must be given to the treatment options to be employed.

  1. Feasibility Study: A Quiet Zone (QZ) study is initiated by Council Office or citizen’s request. A diagnostic team, consisting of City of San Antonio Transportation Department, Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) staff, visits QZ crossings to identify safety improvements.
  2. Data Collection: UPRR provides train data (including day trains, night trains, switching trains, train speed, etc.) and PWD staff collects daily traffic counts.
  3. Quiet Zone Risk Index (QZRI) Calculation: The collected traffic and train data and proposed safety improvements are entered into the FRA’s QZRI calculator to ensure that QZ can be established.
  4. Identify Funding: Identify an available funding source with City Council recommendation and approval (NAMP, HUD 108, CDBG Funds, etc.)
  5. Complete Design: Design plans are prepared to include the safety improvements and signage and pavement markings modifications.
  6. Notice of Intent (NOI): NOI and design plans are submitted to stakeholders, such as FRA, UPRR, Amtrak, TXDOT, etc. The stakeholders are required to respond within a 60-day timeframe.
  7. Complete Safety Improvement Construction: Current on-call contractor is used to build the geometric and traffic improvements.
  8. Final Inspection: An inspection is done by the diagnostic team to verify the safety improvements.
  9. Notice of Establishment (NOE): NOE application and as-built plans are submitted to stakeholders, such as FRA, UPRR, Amtrak, TXDOT, etc. The stakeholders are required to respond within a 30-day timeframe.

Established Quiet Zones

Established Quiet Zones Map(PDF, 9MB)

Quiet Zones by District

District Location Date Established
District 1 August 31, 2011
District 2 March 27, 2009
District 4 May 30, 2012
District 5 Brady November 15, 2011
Haven for Hope June 2013
Lone Star Rockport March 2013
District 8 January 19, 2009
District 9 August 31, 2011
District 10 Austin #1 July 2013
Austin #2 August 31, 2011
Longhorn Spur July 1, 2011

To Report Blocked Crossings

If drivers are stuck at a public railroad crossing that is blocked by train cars, the FRA encourages residents to provide that information in its Blocked Crossings reporter. The FRA can then share this data about the number and frequency of blocked crossings in San Antonio with the City to help understand and potentially improve traffic issues.

To report malfunctioning railroad crossing gates, contact Union Pacific.