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WHY CAN'T WE FIX THAT? Quiet zones for train horns in Colorado Springs

Train Horn Quiet Zones Why Cant We Fix That-

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - It's inescapable: the sound of a train horn permeating through bedroom walls.

That's exactly why Rachel Oliverio of Colorado Springs is begging for some sound sleep.

"You'll be just tranquil, peaceful, asleep. And then all of a sudden, 'Raww!'" said Oliverio. “It does wake you up in the middle of the night -- and it's all hours."

Other KRDO NewsChannel 13 viewers shared cell phone videos from that same neighborhood of trains crossing at 11:24 p.m., 12:43 a.m., and 3:40 a.m.

Oliverio lives in the Mill Street Neighborhood, south of downtown Colorado Springs, near three at-grade train crossings: Royer, Las Animas, and Sierra Madre -- none meet quiet zone standards for train crossings.

According to Federal Railroad Association rules, trains must sound their horns at all at-grade crossings (that’s when railroad tracks are at the same level as the street). To be eligible for a quiet zone crossings have to have appropriate flashing lights, gates, and a median separating lanes so vehicles are prevented from driving around gates preceding a train crossing.

According to the Federal Railroad Association, three other communities in El Paso County have quiet zones: Monument, Security, and Fountain. 

Ten years ago, the city of Colorado Springs started to pursue quiet zone status -- but the project was derailed.

"I think it was a matter of the city might have not seen funding available for it, or lost interest in it for some reason,” said Kathleen Krager, Division Manager of Traffic Engineering for Colorado Springs. “But it has grown as a concern."

Other projects, according to Krager, have taken priority, including road projects at Woodmen and Union, I-25 and Cimarron.

"It's important to make those changes because they affect so many of our drivers. But it's also important to make those quiet zone improvements so that residents can be a little more comfortable at night," said Krager.

There are plans to completely reconfigure the Royer crossing this summer, shifting the intersection to the east, at a cost of $5.5 million. 

Bringing the Las Animas and Sierra Madre crossing to quiet zone standard could take anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000.  The city is pursuing Federal funding to expedite money for the projects, but those improvements could be 3-4 years down the road.

If, and when that happens, Colorado Springs city leaders can pursue quiet zone status, which would then apply for the entire town, city limit to city limit.

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