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While the regular sighting of trains in Castle Rock may evoke feelings of nostalgia for some, since 2007, the increase in traffic and noise has become unsettling to residents and business owners who reside in close proximity to the tracks. In order to gather input from the public, last week, the Town held an open house at Town Hall to discuss the Council’s latest option to create a train horn quiet zone downtown.

Ryan Germeroth, Transportation Planning & Traffic Engineer Manager for the Town fielded questions from residents concerned about the latest proposed plan.
Ryan Germeroth, Transportation Planning & Traffic Engineer Manager for the Town fielded questions from residents concerned about the latest proposed plan.

“We have been in contact with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the railroad and all the corporate people that have to sign off on this and they have come up with calculations to create a zone,” said Castle Rock Town Manager, David Corliss. That quiet zone would create an area downtown where trains would not blow their horns at street crossings to warn of their approach.

The current idea being entertained would add a combination of modifications to three specific areas where the tracks merge with car and pedestrian traffic.

“The plan is to close Second Street right at the railroad crossing…approximately 100 feet,” commented Ryan Germeroth, Castle Rock Transportation Planning & Traffic Engineering Manager. “We would also put a traffic signal or a roundabout at Third and Perry and extend the median near the Fifth Street crossing to make traffic flow better.”

However, some residents expressed concerns about the specifics of the plan. K.C. Neel, owner of Castle Rock Ski & Golf travels regularly through the crossings in question and thinks the Town is taking a modest approach to what the project will really cost.

Owners of Castle Rock Ski & Golf, Mark and K.C. Neel, have noticed the increase in noise from the trains over the years.
Owners of Castle Rock Ski & Golf, Mark and K.C. Neel, have noticed the increase in noise from the trains over the years.

“I think closing Second Street is a bad idea; both short and long-term. I think it’s going to cost more than has been initially estimated,” said Neel. Along with additional costs for proposed changes, she is concerned that minimal, ‘thrifty’ modifications will not take the  safest approach.

“There was a difference of opinion with the Town staff I spoke with regarding medians at Third Street– some said they were necessary, others did not,” Neel continued, “How can we say the intersection at Third Street will be safe if we don’t have to do anything to it (at the crossing)? Something about that just doesn’t ring right with me.”

Rather, Neil thinks the Town could secure other ways to finance pricier modifications like installing quadrant gates near the tracks. “Let’s put the four quadrant gates at Second and Third Streets,” Neil continued. “Let’s partner with our neighbors and friends in Douglas County to do this project properly…the County has extended an interest in helping defray the costs associated with quieting the train horns.”

According to the Town, installing quadrant gates at the downtown crossings could yield a price tag close to $1 million.
According to the Town, installing quadrant gates at the downtown crossings could yield a price tag close to $1 million.

However, Town Council has evaluated many options for the quiet zone including the costs associated with installing four-quadrant gates at the intersections. The final bill could cost the Town nearly $1 million. And so far, Council has decided there are other budget priorities.

“There are a variety of methods that are allowed,” Dan Sailor, Assistant Director of Public works added. “However, most other jurisdictions in Colorado have used the methods we are suggesting.”

So until the tentative meeting on February 2, Council will continue to evaluate information from the open house before making any final decisions. They are likewise hoping that more resident input is received in order to help them shape the details of a plan that meets FRA standards and fits the project’s cost neatly into the Town’s future budget.

Voice your opinion on the issue at :CRgov.com/TrainHorn.