CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- The railroad has long been part of the history of Castle Rock--trains running through the town since the 1800’s.
But now, the community wants to quiet the locomotives.
It’s part of a national effort, as communities try to silence train horns after federal law forced them to double their noise levels a few years ago.
On Thursday night, the town listened to one noise-reducing option.
It's trying to establish a quiet zone at three railroad crossings in its downtown.
Residents say the noise has gotten so loud, it’s disrupting everyday life.
The deafening rumble of passing freight trains shatters the quiet of Castle Rock.
“Some days there won’t be any. But other days, they will be about every 17 minutes and there can be up to 18 a day,” says architect Dave Hieronymus.
The downtown business owner says his business stops when the trains go.
“In the summertime, when we have our windows open, when the train comes, then we basically can’t talk on the phone,” he says.
Homeowners have the same story.
“In the moment a train might go by, you will not be able to hear me, nor I you,” says resident Steve Williams.
Federal rules require train engineers sound their horns before all public railroad crossings, for at least 20 seconds.
“The sound of the horns is usually 100 decibels, which is louder than a jackhammer, for example,” says Public Works Director Bob Goebel.
But there may be some railroad ruckus relief.
“The wayside horn will be a more focused beam of sound, rather than filling the whole valley with sound,” says Goebel.
Instead if a train blaring its horn, the town tests a horn that’s attached directly to the railroad crossing.
“I’m curious what these horns are going to sound like here.”
Williams and his neighbors show up to see how it sounds.
They learn the volume is considerably lower.
“I’d be okay with this. It would save money,” says Williams.
Their decisions reinforced when a train speeds through and drowns out their discussion.
“Anything they do to reduce the noise would be greatly appreciated,” says Hieronymus.
Castle Rock is also considering installing four gates at each of the three crossings.
That would allow the town to completely silence the horns. But it comes at a cost that’s nearly three times as much.
But some say it’s much safer because car’s cannot drive around the gates.
Douglas County is installing the stationary horn system near The Outlets at Castle Rock in September.