U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet told officials from Windsor and other northern Colorado communities Monday that train horn regulations need to be more flexible, and that a “one-size-fits-all” approach isn’t working for communities that say the noise impacts their quality of life.
His statements came during a discussion at D’Vine Bistro in Fort Collins with officials from Windsor, Greeley, Fort Collins, Loveland and Longmont.
The Federal Railroad Administration announced at an Oct. 31 Railroad Safety Advisory Committee meeting the agency would be reassessing its train noise rules and plans to seek input from communities dealing with the issue.
Since 2005, the FRA has mandated that trains must sound the horn for 15-20 seconds as they approach all public grade crossings. The horns are required to sound at nearly 110 decibels, as loud as a commercial jet plane, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
“We all expect that rail and commerce has to coexist with communities, and we certainly all agree as elected officials with the Federal Rail Administration that safety, safety and safety are paramount,” Windsor Mayor John Vazquez said. “But there’s quality of life that also has to be included in the equation in how we address the horn. That’s, I think, what we’re asking for.”
Bennet told the group that the “one-size-fits-all” train horn regulations weren’t working for the communities and sought their input as to what some rational solutions to the issue may be.
“This is a classic case of a bunch of unintended consequences that are flowing from somebody’s probably well-meaning idea in Washington, that by the time it gets here, doesn’t make sense,” Bennet said.
Vazquez said “corridor-based” policies should be crafted, rather than policies based on other classifications.
Earlier this year, Windsor received a $2.79 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant, which will pay for the town to turn 15 of its railroad crossings into “quiet zones.”
Windsor plans to construct the 15 quiet zones in 2014, Vazquez said.
“I would tell the folks of Windsor to look forward to construction starting in spring 2014 and bear with us because it is going to be a process,” he said.