Twelve percent of Orange County's $85 million safety improvement program was funded by eight cities; the state and Measure M, a half-cent county sales tax designated for transportation improvements, provided the rest. Here, officials celebrate the completion of the four-year effort. Photo: OCTA

More than 50 railroad crossings throughout 2,455-square-mile Orange County, Calif., have been designated Federal Railroad Administration quiet zones, making the community of 3 million residents one of the quietest nationwide.

In 2009, the county's Transportation Authority partnered with eight cities to upgrade and update warning devices, add gate arms, extend and raise medians, improve signage, and coordinate traffic signals at 52 crossings. The cities applied for quiet zone status after construction.

Federal law requires engineers to sound a train's horn up to four times when approaching a railroad crossing, but only during an emergency when traveling through a quiet zone.

“The partnership between the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), Metrolink, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the Federal Railroad Administration is an ideal example of what can be accomplished when government agencies collaborate,” says OCTA Chairman Paul Glaab. Visit