BART takes steps to tamp down track noise

BART is working on saving its customers’ ears with a new project approved by the Board of Directors last week.

The agency will install custom rail dampers on some of its noisiest sections of track: 3,000 feet of trackway between Balboa Park and Daly City, as well as 840 feet near the West Oakland station, BART officials said.

BART previously installed dampers on tracks between the North Berkeley and El Cerrito Plaza stations in 2012.

BART principal track engineer Greg Shivy said:

“The impact has been noticeable. … Not only is the ride quieter by an average of several decibel points and noise complaints down, but the need to grind the rail to smooth it went from twice a year to once every four years. Less grinding also extends the life of the rail.”

The dampers between Balboa Park and Daly City will be installed over Labor Day weekend and will require crews to shut down a portion of track. The West Oakland installation will happen later but will not require a shutdown, according to BART.

The dampers work by reducing vibrations on the rail. It costs $1 million per mile to install, so crews are targeting the noisiest sections of track.

The approved installation will cost $617,844, which will be covered mostly by grant money, BART officials said.