The nation's largest rail safety program comprises 47.5 miles of commuter track running through six cities in California. Photo: Orange County Transportation Authority

California's Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) unveiled the first nine of 50 railroad crossings it's upgrading to meet requirements for Federal Railroad Administration quiet zone designation.

Scheduled for completion by 2012, the $85 million safety enhancement program is a partnership between the transit agency and eight communities in one of the most congested regions in the nation. The agency is covering most of the cost — 88% — with monies from Measure M2, a half-cent local transportation sales tax approved in 1990 and renewed in 2006.

The participating cities, each of which will apply for quiet zone designation once improvements are finished, are paying for the rest.

“We've worked closely with the railroad administration and cities throughout this process to meet the standards,” says OCTA Media Relations Manager Joel Zlotnik. “We're confident the requests will be approved.”