The Port of San Diego released the Barrio Logan Nighttime Noise Study Thursday detailing the sources of nighttime noise in the Barrio Logan neighborhood, pinpointing traffic, rail activities and working waterfront operations as major concerns.
Nighttime noise is a neighborhood issue that affects quality of life, including mental and physical health. The study was funded by the port’s Maritime Industrial Impact Fund under the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, and attempted to better understand the causes of nighttime disturbances and identified tools to avoid, minimize and/or mitigate adverse nighttime noise sources and improve the quality of life for Barrio Logan residents.
From September to December 2019, the port sought information from community members and stakeholders about nighttime noise sources between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., with a focus on 1 a.m. to 4 a.m.
After completing outreach and collecting survey responses, the port analyzed the information and identified recommended strategies that could be potentially implemented to reduce nighttime noise. In the report, the data showed most areas within Barrio Logan to be in compliance with applicable noise standards and policies most of the time; however, momentary impulse sources that rise above the standards occur on a frequent and regular basis and nighttime noise continues to be problematic for many residents.
The most significant nighttime noise sources are from vehicular traffic and rail operations, including relatively constant noise from flowing traffic on Interstate 5 and state Route 75, and more variable and generally louder noise from passing vehicles on local streets.
Also a concern is freight train coupling and switching operations that occur primarily in the BNSF and San Diego Metropolitan Transit System railyards as well as federally mandated freight and passenger train horns and bells at each of the seven MTS and five BNSF road crossings in Barrio Logan.
Noise from machinery and outdoor operations at the working waterfront is the last major source of noise the report pointed out.
The study determined that noise levels associated with mobile sources followed noise ordinance standards. Nevertheless, it identified several options that could help minimize nighttime noises in Barrio Logan including physical improvements, such as installing grade separation intersections for the railroad to avoid train horns and crossing bells, requiring loud equipment to be enclosed and/or constructing sound walls at key locations along railroad right of ways. The study specifically called out locations at 28th Street and 32nd Street for grade separations.
Working with government officials to establish a “quiet zone” through Barrio Logan was another proposed strategy. This would eliminate the required sounding of loud horns that range between 96 to 110 decibels for the 53 MTS Blue Line Trolley trains that travel through the community between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays, as well as up to six freight trains between 12 a.m. and 4 a.m.
Other strategies include enforcing existing noise standards with businesses operating outside posted business hours. Tools that can be employed, such as eliminating windows in buildings that face noise-sensitive areas and requiring exterior doors to be closed during nighttime activities, can help lower industrial noise activities.
Additionally, the San Diego International Airport has had some success implementing a fund that retrofit homes with sound-insulation materials to lower indoor noise levels by at least five decibels. A similar program could be pursued by the City of San Diego for Barrio Logan residents.
Although no single concept or improvement is capable of lowering the ambient noise levels throughout the community, the cumulative effect of implementing several of these measures over time is likely to reduce nighttime noise levels in the community.
–City News Service
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