By Mark Ackerman
DENVER (CBS4) – The blaring horns from RTD’s A Line trains are causing a lot of aggravation in Northeast Denver. The new train to the airport runs 22 hours a day and must blow its horn at every intersection along the way, day or night.
Train noise has been “absolutely awful’ for guests at the Renaissance Hotel, according to general manager Brian Lenfestey, who says he offers his guests white noise machines, fans and ear plugs in an attempt to drown out the noise from the nearby A Line.
He says due to the train noise, the hotel has lost major contracts with two airline crews, and even the Carolina Panthers who planned to stay when they played the Denver Broncos in the opening week of the NFL season.
“Our trip advisor rating has dropped from #22 to #33,“ said Lenfestey who has received guest reviews titled “Worst night I sleep I ever got a hotel” and “Trains with loud horns all night long.”
“That means we are on page two instead of page three and have lost our key position in the market,” which translates into an economic hit, Lenfestey said.
CBS4 has also heard train noise complaints from residents in Stapleton, Green Valley Ranch and Aurora.
Wayne Graham says he can hear the train at night from four miles away in Denver’s Hilltop neighborhood.
“I don’t want the neighbor mowing the lawn at 2 a.m., I don’t think RTD should be operating the train at 2 a.m.,” he said.
Graham spoke at a recent board meeting asking RTD to revert to running buses at night until the train noise problem can be addressed.
Nate Currey with RTD said running buses to the airport at night would not be logistically feasible.
He said RTD hoped to have “quiet zones” established before the A Line opened five months ago. But that hasn’t happened yet.
Right now, federal regulations force engineers to sound the horn as the train approaches every intersection.
“Bottom line it’s for safety and we would hate to see someone get hurt,“ said Currey.
The Federal Railroad Administration can establish a quiet zone, where trains don’t have to sound the horn, if the stretch of track is deemed safe enough. Currently, workers are stationed at every train crossing because the gates still don’t work properly. Until that’s fixed, and a quiet zone is established, the horns will continue to blare.
“This year hasn’t shaped up exactly like we expected, but we are rolling with it,” Currey said. “If I was waking up every night by a train, I’d be frustrated too. Be patient with us, we know this isn’t ideal.”
RTD is hopeful the Federal Railroad Association will establish a quiet zone by the end of the year. Right now, there are 15 quiet zones in Colorado, but currently none within the City of Denver. The FRA has repeatedly denied requests for a quiet zone in Fort Collins.