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By Tim Hunt

Railroad quiet zone is an overdue good idea

Uploaded: Jan 24, 2017

ACE trains are moving forward with a long-overdue improvement—establishing a quiet zone for two railroad crossings in Sunol and one near me on Castlewood Drive.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors already has approved moving ahead with the quiet zone and they were well received at the Sunol Citizens Advisory Council earlier this month. The three crossings have been protected by gates for many years that would be supplemented by new median barriers to ensure that motorists do not drive around the gates.

Currently, federal regulations require train engineers to start sounding the horn 15 to 20 seconds before reaching the crossing and to sound them continuously until the engine enters the crossing. Twelve trains traverse the area during weekdays when the ACE commuter service runs.

It will be welcome when those horn blasts are silenced, although it is remarkable how well you adjust to the horns over time. Eventually, they just become background noise.
The announcement this month that Sears will sell its Craftsman brand of tools to Stanley Black &Decker for about $1 billion demonstrates just how tough the traditional brick-and-mortar retail environment has become.
For decades, the only place you could buy Craftsman tools, with their lifetime guarantee, was Sears. I remember breaking the metal handle of an old hammer with a mis-aimed swing. I brought it back and was told just pick out a new one.
As one who grew up when you could still work on your own car, I invested in Craftsman tools. Some of my first adult purchases were Craftsman wrenches and sockets that I have to this day—decades later. They have been used as needed since the early 1970s, particularly when it was time to work on my 1983 Mercedes.
That time passed last week when we surrendered the car to a junk yard where those who still own that vintage Benz will find plenty of serviceable parts. It was still running pretty well after 33 years and way over 300,000 miles (the odometer stuck at 280,000 more than a decade ago).

A Wall Street Journal article on Jan. 12 demonstrated just how much President Obama tried to put his stamp on the country in his final days in office. The article detailed and compared how much land and water he had set aside by executive order.
In December, the president designated nearly 2 million acres of Utah and Nevada as national monuments. In his eight years, he has set aside 550 million acres of land and water, dwarfing the totals of other presidents. George W. Bush, by contrast, set aside 219 million acres, while Bill Clinton designated under 6 million. Jimmy Carter put 56 million acres into preservation.
Of note, the governors of Utah, Alaska and Nevada all opposed the actions.