Quiet Zone Study - Palo Alto Avenue/Alma Street Crossing

Project Description

The City of Palo Alto (City) has received several requests for consideration of Quiet Zone at crossings across Caltrain Corridor. As the first phase of this project, the City of Menlo Park, in coordination with City of Palo Alto, is conducting a Quiet Zone (QZ) Study that includes consideration of a quiet zone at the Palo Alto Avenue/Alma Street crossing along the Caltrain Corridor. Kimley Horn and Associates was selected consultant to perform this study in collaboration with City of Menlo Park. The procurement process was led by the City of Menlo Park consistent with its policies and practices. A similar study at other crossings within Palo Alto will be performed as a second phase of this project.

Federal regulation requires that locomotive horns begin sounding 15–20 seconds before entering public rail grade crossings, no more than one-quarter mile in advance. The Federal Railroad Administration is committed to reducing the number of collisions at highway-rail grade crossings, while establishing a consistent standard for communities who opt to preserve or enhance quality of life for their residents by establishing Quiet Zones within which routine use of train horns at public crossings is restricted.

This project is separate and independent from the on-going rail grade separation conversations and reviews the Quiet Zone as an interim measure at this crossing. 

Project Status

The consultant completed the initial review of the site conditions to develop conceptual plans. In addition, a field diagnostic meeting was held amongst a team of consultant staff, staff from the cities of Palo Alto and Menlo Park, California Public Utilities Commission, Caltrain, and Federal Railway Administration to review the existing conditions at the crossing for developing recommendations to implement the Quiet Zone.

Community Meeting

A community meeting that shares the conceptual plans, and provides an opportunity for the community to provide input and feedback on the crossing study and conceptual plans, is scheduled on March 23, 2023 at 6 p.m. This meeting will be hybrid.  Join in person at the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center-Oak Room 701 Laurel Street, Menlo Park, CA 94025, or virtually through Zoom. Please use the following zoom link to either register in advance or access the meeting on the day of: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_AjtnLkTaSxatq24ToJsecw

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Project Timeline

  • Fall 2022

    Field Review/Data Collection/Initial concept planning


  • Winter 2022

    Preliminary Analysis, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Caltrain/Joint Powers Board (JPB) Review


  • Spring 2023

    Prepare Conceptual Plans and Conduct Outreach


  • Summer/Fall 2023

    Finalize and Adopt the Study recommendations


  • Implementation of Improvements

    Following completion of this Study, the implementation of the Quiet Zone will require construction of improvements and formal request to Federal Railway Administration for establishment of a Quiet Zone. Funding for the final design and construction will be procured after adoption of the final study by the City Council.

Location Map