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U.S. Sen. Bennet addresses train noise in FoCo

It shakes buildings. It rattles cars. It can cause everyone in a blocks radius to cover their ears. The train horn in downtown Fort Collins has been causing issues for residents for years, and has caught the attention of state representatives.

Yesterday morning, representatives from Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, Greeley and Windsor gathered to discuss the issue with Senator Bennet, hoping to receive his aid in fixing the issue.

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“We’ve been looking at this issue for over two years,” US Senator Michael Bennet said. “This really is affecting the long term health of our communities.”

The City of Fort Collins was represented yesterday by Mayor Karen Weitkunat, City Manager Darin Attebery and City Councilmember Gary Horak. They all spoke with Senator Bennet in the hopes that the train horn law can be altered.

The train horns have been a problem for Northern Colorado ever since the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) passed a law in 2005 that stated that all locomotive engineers must begin to sound train horns at least 15 seconds in advance of all public roads.

“If you are a block down from the trains on College, you are plugging your ears,” Atteberry said. “It’s a serious issue.”

The law was originally passed due to safety concerns for pedestrians, but Horak argued against the merits of this. He stated that while some railroad tracks are dangerous and may warrant a horn blast, some are quite safe for pedestrians and need no horn.

“This (law) is like having the same speed limit for every street in the US, from downtown Fort Collins to Montana,” Horak said. “People would look at that as crazy, even if it was supposed to be for safety.”

Bennet has heard these concerns, and is working on trying to find a practical solution.

“This is a classic case of unintended consequences from a well-meaning idea in Washington,” Bennet said. “There has to be a balance between safety and our communities.”

Bennet will continue to communicate with Northern Colorado officials over the train horns, and is appealing the FRA to re-consider the law causing the issue.

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Collegian Senior Reporter Caitlin Curley can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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