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FRA Indicates Flexibility On Train Horn Rule

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Federal Railroad Administration leadership signaled an interest Wednesday in working with Colorado Democratic Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet to provide flexibility around train horn regulations.

Municipal leaders in Greeley, Fort Collins and other Front Range communities have expressed concerns that train horn noise is a nuisance for local residents and businesses.

David May, President and CEO of the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce, told KUNC:

“It does cause disruption in Fort Collins, Loveland, name the other communities up and down the Front Range—we’re not unique in that regard. It a problem.”

Cities can apply for federal permission to create so-called “quiet zones” where current train horn rules can be relaxed. But in a letter last week, Udall and Bennet said they are “concerned” that the current zone requirements may be too inflexible and costly.

At the request of Colorado’s senators, Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill asked FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo Wednesday during a subcommittee hearing if the administration was willing to work with communities to provide more flexibility.

We are open to the utmost, highest level of flexibility provided that an equivalent level of safety can be achieved. That’s the goal,” said Szabo. “Our goal is to be performance-based in our approach to safety. What we care about is the outcome, not telling you that you must do it this one and only way.”

In a press release, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet called the response encouraging.

“The FRA has expressed a willingness to work with community leaders in Colorado to find common sense, cost effective solutions that successfully encourage economic development and ensure public safety. We’re looking forward to working together with Colorado communities and the FRA,” he said.

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