Once upon a time in developing America, it was a status symbol to have an overhead power line running from the road to your home.
There was a time when communities’ survival depended upon getting a railroad to roll through town.
Nowadays we prefer our power lines to be buried. When it comes to transportation, we measure prosperity by how many nonstop flight destinations we have. Freight trains, while useful, have become a nuisance.
Reader Mary Jean Nelson loves living in downtown Colorado Springs, but she’s sometimes annoyed by the sound of freight train horns at odd hours.
“What are the guidelines?” Nelson wanted to know.
Nelson can’t be the only one who is annoyed. From Monument to Fountain, freight train noise is the norm.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, “locomotive engineers must begin to sound train horns at least 15 seconds, and no more than 20 seconds in advance of any public grade crossings....Train horns must be sounded in a standardized pattern of two long, one short and one long blasts.”
The maximum decibel level allowed under the federal rule is 110 decibels and the minimum is 96 decibels. At either level it can be heard a long way off.
But help may be on the way.
This month Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet sent a letter to the Federal Rail Administration, saying, “Municipal leaders from Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, Greeley and Windsor, Colorado have expressed concerns to our offices that the train horn noise is a nuisance for local residents and that it stifles economic development by discouraging businesses and housing developers from building and locating in the heart of their communities....While we strongly support the Train Horn Rule’s goal of reducing accidents at highway-rail grade crossings, we are concerned that it may prevent certain municipalities from being able to create quiet zones without incurring prohibitive costs. A more flexible rule could enable these communities to craft a solution that ensures safety yet also reduces noise and promotes long-term economic growth.”
One day it may be quieter. But it’s a federal rule subject to a rule-making process with comment periods and appeals built in, so instead of holding your breath, earplugs may be a good idea.
Got a question? Contact Barry Noreen at 636-0363 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Hear him on KRDO NewsRadio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM at 6:35 a.m. Fridays.