Train Horn Quiet Zone
In April 2022, Town Council approved construction and maintenance agreements with Union Pacific Railroad. The installation of a four-quadrant gate system at the Second and Third street crossings, and curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements at these plus the Fifth Street crossing will allow for the implementation of a railroad quiet zone that covers all three crossings in Downtown Castle Rock.
The estimated cost for the improvements is $1.8 million. The Encore development has contributed $900,000 toward the project as part of its development agreement with the Town. The Town will need to cover the remaining costs, which are currently estimated at $900,000. The Downtown Development Authority and Town Council approved the additional cost coming from sales tax from the Downtown Tax Increment Fee that would go into the DDA Special Fund. The fund can pay the cost in 2022 without alterations to previous commitments, and because the fund is composed of the incremental sales and property tax revenues from Downtown businesses and property owners, this is viewed as appropriate use. The Downtown railroad quiet zone has been a priority for the Downtown Alliance for several years.
Train horn quiet zone benefits
The primary benefits of the project are enhanced safety for vehicles and pedestrians and improved quality of life for Downtown businesses, residents and visitors. Construction will begin once agreements are finalized.
Train horn quiet zone implementation
Construction improvements on the three railroad crossings are anticipated to commence in January 2023.
- What is a train horn quiet zone?
Train engineers are required to sound train horns at railroad crossings for safety reasons. In 2005, the Federal Railroad Administration developed the Federal Train Horn Rule. This new set of rules established standards for how train engineers must sound the horns, including the decibel range of the horn. At the same time, the rules established criteria that would allow for local jurisdictions (like Castle Rock) to silence the regular sounding of horns if certain improvements are implemented in place of the train horn. This is referred to as establishing a quiet zone. It’s important to note that, even with the establishment of a quiet zone, train engineers can still sound the horns if they perceive a danger or a threat.
Reviewed Jan. 5, 2023.
- What are the options for creating a train horn quiet zone?
Options for creating a quiet zone could include completely closing a crossing, installing raised medians, installing additional gates, creating one-way streets, or using horns at the gates rather than on the train – called wayside horns. The goal of a quiet zone is to reach a certain level of safety, defined in a measurement index by the Federal Railroad Administration. Any one or a combination of safety options can be used as long as they reach a certain threshold for safety as defined by that index. It is also possible that using one of the measures at one crossing can reach an appropriate safety score within that index to quiet the horn at multiple crossings located near each other, such as the crossings at Second, Third and Fifth streets.
Reviewed Jan. 5, 2023.
- What are the needed steps to create a quiet zone?
The Town and Union Pacific will be implementing improvements to the roadway crossings at Second, Third and Fifth street crossings. The improvements include new track, extended crossing platforms, additional crossing gates, sidewalk construction and new curb and gutter along with additional signs and striping. Both the Town and Union Pacific will be constructing these improvements over the course of months, due to the complex nature of the work and scheduling constraints. Once the improvements have been constructed, the Town notifies appropriate regulating bodies that the quiet zone has been established, and the train horns will “go silent."
Updated Jan. 5, 2023.