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Can Coloradans Find A Suitable Solution For Trains On The Front Range?
Over the years, Coloradans on the Front Range have had a tumultuous relationship with the trains which travel through their towns. Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont, Lafayette, and Louisville all have tracks that either run through or near the area, and as time has passed, the problems the residents of these towns face has begun to grow.
In essence, there are two main problems each town faces due to trains. There is also only one solution to these problems. The main problems are, of course, the road traffic that the trains create for commuters who have to wait at crossings and the noise pollution the trains emit. The only solution that exists, which is problematic, is diverting the train around or further away from these towns. This is problematic because changing the route is extremely, extremely expensive. And no one exactly “has” to do anything about the problem.
As you have probably endured, sitting at a train crossing can take anywhere from 10-60 minutes. As a kid, this is fun and exciting, because well… trains are cool! But as an adult, it doesn’t exactly have the same thrill factor it did when you were younger. Not to mention, people have places to be. But some towns in Colorado, such as Fort Collins, are noticing rather long commute times when in town. The reason being that the train passes by when traffic is picking up. This only worsens traffic, as residents regularly wait anywhere from 15-30 minutes for the train to pass.
This problem could seemingly go away if the commute times changed either for the trains, or the residents of the town. But neither really want to make a change. A train certainly doesn’t have to wait for cars to pass by it, so it forges ahead regardless and lets drivers wait idly by. This traffic issue is not as large of a concern for other towns, where trains pass through at reasonable hours. This way, it avoids adding to any traffic congestion created by people getting off of work and going home.
Noise however is a different issue. If you haven’t lived next to train tracks, well you should consider yourself lucky. The noise that is created by the steel on steel grinding forward is extremely hard to ignore. Not to mention the rattling that occurs makes it so even if you didn’t hear it, you would certainly feel it. Add to that, the air horns that trains are required to use when passing through towns, and you have in essence, an extremely large noise machine whose purpose is to annoy and disrupt.
I say that because beyond those attributes, towns people see no other benefit from their use. Commuters can’t take the trains, as they are not for public use. The tracks the trains move along are on grounds which are either owned or rented from private owners or cities for an indefinite period of time. So in essence, the trains are well within their right to roll right on through. While any complaints that may arise, usually fall onto deaf ears as, well, they’re not doing anything they haven’t been doing all along. Nothing on their end has changed, and they’ve stayed within the law and ensured anything asked of them within reason is accommodated to make people happier. However, with more people, come more complaints.
The Unaffordable Solution: The Cost To Divert Trains Away From Towns:
Towns and cities in the eastern portion of the U.S have had both time and funds to create a proper plan for trains within town or city limits. As a result, the infrastructure is in place, and experience has been garnered to provide the best solution for trains as well as city/town residents. However, in the west, there has never been much use for trains besides for commercial use. As a result, the tracks laid and routes used have changed little over the years. Add to that, a growing population, the sprawling nature of towns and cities in the west, and you soon realize that there is going to be some issues that arise. Especially when trains travel near or through these towns and cities.
Now the reason there is no quick fix for this problem, as you could imagine, is the funding needed to divert trains away from populated areas is extremely expensive. You might not consider it, but it’s not like the toy trains when you were a kid. You simply can’t lay down track and voila… track complete. You need to find the ground, purchase/rent the ground, level the ground, test the ground, lay the track, secure the track, and the list goes on and on. Other options would be to create over or underpasses for traffic. But that is terribly expensive as well. While really, the only way to ensure residents are happy, such that they don’t have to deal with waiting at crossings and hearing the noise pollution created by the train, is to divert the train away from populated areas.
So what’s the solution then? Well the answer is nothing cheap, regardless of what is chosen. But it’s a well known fact that the infrastructure in America is aging, and soon we will need to upgrade it. With that in mind, perhaps it should be time that citizens invest in alternate modes of transportation, ie. railways. Companies could use these as well, for a fee, and they can be properly planned out so that even as cities and towns grown, they will not have to be butt up against the tracks. Which causes these headaches. But just as anything else is concerned, when it comes to making improvements, it all comes down to the dollar. And trains, their infrastructure and installation require many, many dollars to create. So it’s unlikely we will see any change any time soon, and most likely if we do, it’ll only be a marginal fix, or temporary one. So if you have been plagued by commuting delays due to trains, you should probably start to change your times of travel, and if your plagued by their noise pollution, it may be well worth investing in some ear plugs. Because the problems caused by trains on the Front Range aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
At AAMCO, we know you depend on your automobile to get you to and fro. So let us help you the next time you are in need of Auto Repair, Transmission Repair, or any other Car Maintenance needs. Because those who know… Trust AAMCO!
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