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Longmont earns federal grant to create 'quiet zones' at 15 railroad crossings downtown

Residents looking forward to fix
Posted at 11:18 PM, Feb 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-01 01:20:43-05

LONGMONT, Colo. -- Anyone who lives near a busy railroad crossing knows the frustration of lost sleep, inaudible conversations and other interruptions related to loud, prolonged train horns.

Residents who live along Atwood Street and nearby Collyer have complained about the noise for several years.

Now, thanks to efforts by Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, and Rep. Ken Buck, the city has won a $4-million federal grant that will help "quiet" train horn blasts downtown.

How loud are the horns?

"I have a neighbor who says their child wakes up screaming and crying every time the train goes by," said longtime resident Rick Jacobi. "I have storm windows on my house and at nighttime, I can hear the train a block and half away. It wakes me up."

Jacobi took his concerns to City Hall.

Longmont City Manager Harold Dominguez and his team applied for a federal "quiet zone" grant.

Longer trains

"We are seeing more trains moving through our community and we're also seeing longer trains," Dominguez said.

He added that the $4-million grant will give them the ability to address train horn noise at 15 crossings.

Tyler Stamey, the city's transportation engineering administrator, said Longmont will match the federal grant to remake the crossings, so that drivers can't proceed through when a train is approaching.

He said the "quiet zone" efforts are actually intended to make the crossings safer.

One option is to go to four crossing arms at each crossing -- two on each side of the track, instead of the current one on each side.

"We'll have some options with a combination of medians, gates, lights, and flashers," he said, "so there are several different treatments that we'll be utilizing through our project."

Train aficionados

The train horns don't bother teenagers Peter Kubiak and Andrew Harrison.

The two friends are train aficionados, who spend a lot of time videotaping trains.

They shared some of their video with Denver7.

Kubiak, 15, says it's fun to watch the different paint schemed locomotives pulling various freight cars down the middle of Atwood Street.

"They're so powerful," he said.

He shared some quick stats on an extra long coal train he videotaped one time.

"I actually did the math earlier," he said. "It's like 27,000 tons, and that's about 54 million pounds."

Harrison, 14, said he's used to the train horns now, having grown up in the neighborhood.

He said his big concern isn't the noise, it's when the trains come to a stop.

"The main problem with the trains is they block the crossings," he said.

While the young teens are cool with the horns, other neighbors are looking forward to some peace and quiet.

"Everybody is tickled pink that we now have a way to fix this Achilles heel in an otherwise wonderful neighborhood," Jacobi said.

Dominguez said they're looking at a four year project to complete all 15 crossings.