The city of Leander and Capital Metro have initiated the process to create quiet zones along the sections of Metro Drive and San Gabriel Parkway that cross the MetroRail tracks.

During a Thursday evening City Council meeting, Leander City Engineer Wayne Watts said quiet zones, which are regulated by city ordinance, restrict locomotive engineers from blowing horns as trains travel through a street crossing.

“In order to do that, you have to go through well-established safety procedures and construct certain types of gates so that people cannot drive through them,” he told council members. “The whole idea is to still have a safe crossing but avoid the nuisance of a train horn—particularly freight train horns at 3 o’clock in the morning.”

Leander has established quiet zones at all railroad crossings in the city except at Metro, San Gabriel and US 183.

After the process is initiated to establish a quiet zone at the US 183 crossing, “this will establish quiet zones coming into the city all the way through the city,” Leander Mayor Chris Fielder said.

Leander is planning to extend Metro Drive from its current location at the Leander Park & Ride to connect to Mel Mathis Boulevard, off of which will be the main entrance to Austin Community College's future Leander campus.

City Council also approved an agreement Thursday evening to fund the design, construction and testing of gated railroad crossings at Metro and San Gabriel. The city will reimburse Capital Metro for up to 50 percent of the costs, or up to $500,000. The total cost is estimated to be $915,000 for Metro and $755,000 for San Gabriel, according to city documents.

Design work could commence at the Metro crossing in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017-18, and design work for the San Gabriel crossing would begin in the first quarter of FY 2018-19.

Upon completion of construction and testing of the railroad crossings, Leander will go through the Federal Railroad Administration to establish a quiet zone. Fielder said it will take at least a year for the zones to be established at the crossings.