Federal agency reopens discussion on quiet zones for Colorado trains

Tony Villalobos

For over a decade, noise from trains passing through Fort Collins has been heard. 

The railroad passes through the City, cutting through the downtown district with 12 street crossings. Federal train regulations require that trains must use their horn prior to an intersection, causing the horn to be in effect for the majority of its passage through Fort Collins.

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With numerous complaints in neighboring communities in Colorado, the Federal Railroad Administration has decided to reopen discussion on potential quiet zones, and is offering a chance for community members to comment online.

“I think people get very frustrated with the level of noise,” said Ginny Sawyer, Project and Policy Manager at the City of Fort Collins. 

Last year, the City petitioned the FRA for a waiver to portion the Train Horn Rule. The petition would have waived the federal requirement for seven of the 12 intersections with Mason Street downtown to limit noise.

The petition was denied by the FRA, despite the City’s effort.

The waiver cited the unique nature of Mason Street, where the tracks run down the center of the street. 

Though trains do not frequently hit pedestrians in Fort Collins, the most recent fatal train accident occurred June 29. According to an investigation by the Fort Collins Police, the collision occurred in an area with no traffic or pedestrian crossings that necessitated a sounding of the horn, but upon seeing a group of people close to the tracks, the conductor slowed the train and sounded the horn in an attempt to prevent the collision.

“We are trying to ensure and meet the FRA safety standards while still doing some noise reductions,” Sawyer said.

Collegian Reporter Tony Villalobos May can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter at @TonyTheGnarly.