Castle Pines Village residents pick up steam on railroad quiet zone
by Elizabeth Wood West
Village resident and long-time railroad quiet zone advocate Don Somsky may soon be able to rid Castle Pines Village of some of the unwanted train horn noise.
Somsky, the Castle Pines Homes Association (CPHA), and other Village residents have worked this past year with Douglas County engineering staff member Sean Owens to mitigate train horn noise from Union Pacific Railroad (UP) trains traveling along Santa Fe Drive. Previous and more expensive proposed mitigation measures failed to rally financial support from Village and surrounding community residents.
An alternative railroad quiet zone proposal was submitted this fall to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The proposal was to convert two of the ten private crossings on Santa Fe Drive into public crossings, and then reconfigure them into quiet zones. The two proposed public crossings extend from south of Castle Pines Village and north to the crossing at Sedalia. Train horn noise would essentially be eliminated along this stretch of Santa Fe Drive.
The FRA has made its decision about the proposal. Owens said, “[The FRA] decided that we need to start and stop the quiet zone at a public crossing, which means we are back to where we were in July. We will need to convert the Plum Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (Plum Creek) access and the Cherokee Ranch farm access into public accesses to create a quiet zone for Castle Pines Village.”
Douglas County will cover approximately $100,000 for design, Public Utilities Company application, and permitting with UP. The estimated $300,000 costs for construction of the gates and other improvements will fall to Village residents to pay. CPHA has formed a committee to work with Somsky to come up with a funding plan.
The quiet zone will run about two miles, between the Plum Creek and Cherokee Ranch accesses. The new gate for the Plum Creek access will be secured with a keypad locking system and the Cherokee Ranch gate will have a standard locking system. When either gate is open, a signal light will be lit and the train engineer will then sound the train’s horn to warn of its approach. When the gates are closed, there will be no signal and no need to sound the train horn.
It is expected that these accesses will only be used during typical daytime working hours. This should reduce some of the daytime and most, if not all, of the nighttime train horn noise in this area.
For more information, please call 303-660-7490 or visit www.douglas.co.us “Hot Topics,” and click on “Railroad Crossing – Quiet Zone Study.”