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Longmont Will Keep in Mind Fatal Train Collision As It Moves Forward with Quiet Zone Plans

February 5, 2019
Officers investigate Sunday's fatal train-bicycle collision. The crossing is among those the city is eyeing for creation of a possible quiet zone at the crossing, and will keep in mind the accident as discussions move forward.

Quiet zones workshop

What: Railroad crossing quiet zones project public workshop

When: 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Longmont Parks Building, Sunset Campus 7 S. Sunset St.

More info: tinyurl.com/y6ussuv8

The city will keep in mind the recent fatal train collision at Ken Pratt Boulevard and Nelson Road as it moves forward in its plans to install railroad crossing quiet zones.

The crossing where Ponciano Cortez, 42, was killed Sunday while riding his bicycle and attached trailer across the tracks is one of the BSNF intersections being considered for conversion to a quiet zone.

At the time of the collision, the engineer reportedly sounded the horn as the train approached and crossed the intersection, and the crossing signals were down. Longmont police also said the lights were functioning and emitting an audible sound at the time of the collision.

When a crossing becomes a quiet zone, locomotive horns are not routinely sounded. Crossings require several improvements before they can become quiet zones.

Tyler Stamey, transportation engineering administrator for the Department of Public Works & Natural Resources, said Sunday’s collision is “definitely something we’ll take a look at as we move into final designs with these crossings.”

The city’s 2019 budget includes $380,000 for planning and designing quiet zone improvements for at least some crossings, work is intended to qualify for ending a federal requirement that trains blare their horns as they approach crossings.

The Federal Railroad Administration in 2005 mandated that locomotive horns be sounded for 15 to 20 seconds in advance of all public roadway rail crossings. It further requires minimal volume level of 96 decibels and a maximum of 110 decibels.

Improvements needed to establish quiet zones often include improved crossing arms; curbs and medians to prevent vehicles from going around gates; improved communications circuitry between the tracks, the train and the crossing arms; and, in some cases, localized “wayside” horns at the crossings, city officials have said in the past.

The crossing at Ken Pratt Boulevard and Nelson Road doesn’t need as many upgrades as others to be converted to a quiet zone. The largest requirement would be a median extension on the intersection’s east side.

Sidewalks and pedestrian walkways do not require safety upgrades for crossings to become quiet zones, but some municipalities have surpassed requirements and installed smaller versions of the gates that are used for travel lanes, Stamey said.

“It’s definitely a question we’ll ask,” Stamey said.

The city on Wednesday is holding a workshop at which residents can ask questions and make comments about creation of quiet zones. Comments also can be made via an online survey — tinyurl.com/y6ussuv8 — through noon Feb. 12.

Madeline St. Amour: 303-684-5212, mstamour@prairiemountainmedia.com

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