Town waiting on Secretary of Transportation to OK train noise grant
June 21, 2014
Doug Youngren lives in the Greenspire subdivision north of Colo. 392 and at night he’s awoken by long, blaring horns as trains roll into town.
“We’re not even that close to the crossings, but close enough that the noise wakes us up at night,” Youngren said. “It’s just a long, annoying, very loud horn.”
Since 2005, the Federal Railroad Administration 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.
Last year, Windsor received a $2.79 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to pay for the town to turn 15 of its railroad crossings into “quiet zones.” The work will include enhanced active grade crossing warning devices, traffic control infrastructure and pedestrian crossing upgrades.
Youngren used to drive a fire engine for the Greeley Fire Department, where he worked for 32 years before retiring. He said sometimes he’d have to use the engine’s sirens or horns at night in residential areas, but knew how to be judicious with the noise.
“I was hopeful a year ago with the newspaper articles, when I heard the town had the money to do this,” Youngren said. “It seems like it’s moving at snail’s pace. If we have the money, let’s get it going.”
The town has planned to construct the 15 quiet zones this spring, however Town Manager Kelly Arnold told the Windsor Town Board Monday night that the grant is awaiting approval from the Office of the Secretary of Transportation.
“The latest is that the Federal Railroad Administration has completed their review of the grant and has sent it to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation,” Arnold said. “They’re the final sign-offs at the Federal level. It includes a July 1 appropriation date, as of last June, but they have not reviewed it, nor have they done anything else with it.”
Arnold said in talks with FRA, officials told him the town could hear about the approval in the coming days, and if so, asked if the town could hold a special meeting before July 1 to authorize a town board member to approve the agreement. He said if the approval comes before the board’s final meeting this month, he would put the agreement on the board’s agenda.
“If you don’t see it, then I suspect what they’ll do is put an August 1st appropriation date, and we’ll see it hopefully in July,” Arnold said.
He said if the town has approval by July 1, engineering would take place this year, and then construction would take place in 2015, with the final quiet zone approved by the end of 2015.
The grant will cover up to $2.8 million of the total cost, however, Arnold said the town isn’t sure what the final cost will be until bids are sent out for the project, but said town staff believes it will cost more than the grant amount. He said the town hopes to send the project out for bids in January 2015 and suggested the town board include estimated funds for the project in the town’s 2015 budget.
Until the process moves forward, Youngren will have to put up with the train horns he said impacts his and other residents quality of life.
“You know, I used to like the sound of trains from a distance when I was boy,” Youngren said. “Now, I just want to yell at them.”