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A quiet zone is a section of a rail line where locomotive horns are not routinely sounded. Jurisdiction of Quiet Zones falls under the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). A quiet zone removes the requirement for the routine blowing of train horns, although the conductor always has the option to blow horns at their discretion. To learn more about FRA's rules and requirements for quiet zones, visit their website.
In order to establish a quiet zone, local governments or other agencies must show that the lack of the horn does not pose a significant safety risk. Some of the ways in which local governments may accomplish this include safety measures such as gates, medians, and other channelization devices.
Brightline, also known as "All Aboard Florida" (AAF), is a proposal by Florida East Coast Industries (FECI) to provide passenger rail service between South Florida and Central Florida, potentially expanding to Tampa and Jacksonville. The proposal would connect South and Central Florida by utilizing 195 miles of an existing rail corridor (some freight) located along the eastern portion of the state (see construction plans on Brightline's site here). Local governments along the corridor - such as Jupiter - have been working with regional planning councils, elected officials and each other to understand all of the impacts of the proposal. In addition, Jupiter is advocating that, if the proposal moves forward, it should only do so in a form that prioritizes public safety and quality of life issues. Read more about what the Town Council has published regarding Brightline's plans.
Currently the Town is working with the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency (TPA) to plan for quiet zones in Jupiter. Brightline – the company that has recently established high-speed passenger rail from Miami to West Palm Beach and has plans to continue north to Orlando – is currently installing safety measures in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, and Delray Beach at select intersections. Once the safety measures are complete, those communities may apply for quiet zones. If Brightline proceeds with phase 2 of their project to bring passenger rail north from West Palm Beach to Orlando, they will consider installing safety measures that may enable quiet zones. At this point, the timing of that project is unknown.
If the plans for Brightline are delayed or changed, the Town could evaluate the cost of implementing safety measures and quiet zones. The Town Council has prioritized a thorough and comprehensive review of Quiet Zones in their 2019 Strategic Plan, so that they may evaluate all available alternatives and associated costs in late 2018 or early 2019. With this approach, it is the Town’s hope that Brightline’s plans will become clearer and the Town Council will be positioned to make decisions with all available information.