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Noise Mitigation

Northwest Rail is a proposed 41-mile commuter rail corridor, which will run along the current BNSF Railway line from Denver Union Station to Longmont, passing through North Denver, Adams County, Westminster, Broomfield, Louisville, and Boulder. The Northwest Rail Environmental Evaluation will identify how this project may impact the community and the environment. The study will recommend ways to minimize these impacts in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Noise is one impact the study will examine.  

How will the study address noise mitigation?
The Northwest Rail Environmental Evaluation will develop avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures for each severe, and in some cases moderate, impact for all environmental resource areas, including noise. Because noise mitigation is very site specific, not every situation will result in the same standard recommended mitigation measure.

What options exist for noise mitigation?
Noise mitigation measures may include the following:
•    Ensuring quality track design
•    Installing sound walls or berms
•    Installing sound insulation for diesel mufflers
•    Location of train horns on commuter rail vehicles
•    Direction of train horns
•    Establishing Quiet Zones at crossings
•    Installing Wayside Horns at crossings

What is a Wayside Horn?
A Wayside Horn is another alternative to a train-mounted horn. Wayside Horns are mounted at a railroad crossing and focus noise toward approaching vehicles and nearby pedestrians. This type of mitigation would limit the amount of noise exposure for noise-sensitive areas along the tracks near crossings where trains sound their horns as they approach them.

Will Quiet Zones be considered for the Northwest Rail Corridor?
Citizens along the Northwest Rail Corridor have expressed a strong desire for Quiet Zones to limit the sound of the train horn noise at railroad crossings. In October 2007, the RTD Board adopted the Responsible Rail Amendment that calls for RTD to assist the local communities in the Quiet Zone application process and assist in identifying all possible funding sources to cover the costs associated with implementing them along the Northwest Rail Corridor. Because this is such an important topic for the community, and because the Quiet Zone implementation process is quite complex, we have developed a separate Northwest Rail Quiet Zone Implementation Fact Sheet that provides detailed information about this option.

When will I know how noise impacts will be mitigated?
Before the project team can propose noise mitigation measures, it needs to define the alignment, including station areas. This project "footprint" is used to identify impacts and determine where mitigation measures need to be implemented. The results of the noise impact analysis will be available in the summer of 2008 and shared at corridor-wide public workshops. The project will then develop the Draft Environmental Evaluation, which is expected to be available in the fall of 2008. It will include proposed noise mitigation measures. The public will have the opportunity to review and comment on the draft document after its release.

Additional Resources
RTD FasTracks Noise Mitigation Measures for Moderate Impacts Policy
RTD FasTracks Noise Barrier Change Policy





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