Federal train horn regulations open to public comment
March 8, 2016
For most Grand County residents that live near a railroad track, the jarring sound of a train horn in the middle of the night is all too familiar.
But those residents now have a chance weigh in on federal rules for train horns.
The Federal Rail Administration announced last week that it would open its train horn regulations to public comment following a campaign by U.S. Representative Jared Polis and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, both Democrats, to give Colorado residents input on the rules.
"Train horn noise is a serious concern for Colorado communities that want to ensure public safety and improve their quality of life," Bennet said in a press release. "We have continuously advocated for additional flexibility in the train horn rules to help these communities create quiet zones that can help boost economic development in their city centers. We're glad the FRA is finally moving forward with this review. Coloradans should offer their feedback to ensure that the FRA considers changes to the rule that reflect the needs of our communities."
Bennet spearheaded a 2013 push to open the FRA's train horn regulations to public comment. The senator also introduced an amendment to a transportation bill in 2013 that would require the FRA to consider the concerns of Colorado communities about its train horn regulations.
Current federal rules dictate that engineers must sound their horns for at least 15 seconds and no more than 20 seconds when approaching public grade crossings.
The maximum sound level for train horns is 110 decibels, according to the FRA.
The FRA itself announced that it would be "conducting a retrospective review" of its train horn regulations and would seek public comment "on whether FRA should modify, streamline, or expand any requirements" of the regulations.
Polis joined Bennet on his latest push to give Coloradans a voice on the issue.
"Time and time again Coloradans have voiced their frustration over excessively loud train horn noise," Polis said in a press release. "I'm relieved to hear that the FRA has decided to reopen the train horn rule, and consider fixing a problem that has lasted for far too long. This will benefit communities across Colorado, and is a step-in the right direction to guarantee we find a solution that is both safe and minimally disruptive."
Republican Senator Cory Gardner also expressed his support for the move.
"The current rule is not effectively serving Front Range communities with rail lines running through their city centers, and I am committed to seeing a final rule that continues to prioritize safety while also acknowledging the needs of individual communities," Gardner said in a press release.
The public comment period begins on March 7 and will be open until July 5.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-557-6010