The public utilities commission met in the afternoon on Wednesday, March 28 regarding the A Line crossings, and they gave approvals that will allow the quiet zone process to move forward. The questions before the PUC were:
- Is it in the public interest to allow greater variation in the time allowed at the crossing gates, as RTD requested? Rather than a fixed 20-second crossing time, PUC approved a range that includes 5 seconds less or 15 seconds more (-5+15).
- Is it in the public interest to remove the crossing guard attendants? Removal of the flaggers has been approved.
These approvals are subject to three conditions in the FRA waiver RTD obtained last September that allowed the -5+15 variation in crossing gate times: a plan for demobilizing the crossing attendants, monthly reports of crossing performance, and immediate reporting of accidents and incidents.
Approval by the PUC was necessary before RTD can go back to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to request establishment of quiet zones. Once approved by the FRA, the individual cities, which years ago submitted their intent to have quiet zones, will submit the paperwork necessary to establish quiet zones. Denver has said it could take ten weeks or longer.
The commissioners stated they have received calls and emails about the train horns and understand the horns have created difficult living conditions for those along the A line. They want the public to know they’ve been hearing those concerns. One commissioner said he rides the A Line and is well aware of the problem from talking to people on the train. The PUC commissioners made clear that, having made this decision, they do not have the authority to speed up the federal quiet zone process, though they would recommend that the process be expedited.