Town Staff has been working diligently with both the Public Utility Commission and Great Western Railroad since 2017 to get an agreement finalized for the Three Bell Parkway railroad crossing improvement project. The needed improvements include the installation of railroad crossing signals on Three Bell and add a median, curb, gutter and sidewalks to this intersection. Once completed, the crossing can qualify as a quiet crossing.
Because this project involves several different organizations and parties, the coordination has taken more time than originally expected. The railroad tracks that run through Town are technically owned and maintained by the Great Western Railroad. For this reason, all construction plans and steps must be approved by the organization for the project to move ahead.
August 2017: Staff met with Great Western Railroad to discuss the project and the necessary steps to move it forward to construction.
May 2018: Construction plans were created, reviewed and finalized by staff. Construction was contingent on approval by the Colorado Public Utility Commission (PUC) and a construction and maintenance agreement with Great Western Railroad.
July 2018: Staff and leadership met onsite with the PUC, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Railroad for the second time that year to review the project and for a quiet zone diagnostics review to establish the crossing as a quiet zone crossing.
December 2018: After waiting for the remainder of the year for a draft construction and maintenance agreement and for the Railroad to submit for approval to the PUC, the Town proceeded with a submittal to the PUC to move the project forward.
January 31, 2019: Town staff received approval from the PUC for the crossing improvements. At this time, construction continued to wait for a construction and maintenance agreement from the railroad to move forward.
Feb – Sept 2019: Through this time no construction and maintenance agreement was reached that was in compliance with the Jan. 31 PUC decision after multiple requests from the Town.
October 2019: The Railroad filed with the PUC to change the Jan. 31 PUC decision.
December 11, 2019: The PUC denied the Railroad motion and ruled that a construction and maintenance agreement must be filed by January 31, 2020.
January 28, 2020: Timnath Town Council approves a construction and maintenance agreement with the Great Western Railroad that is in compliance with the PUC decision. The agreement authorizes the railroad to construct the Town requested improvements, for which the Town is responsible for paying, and allows the Town to construct the necessary road improvements. The current estimate for Great Western Railroad work (signals & crossing panels) is $328,940.
These improvements will also allow for this crossing to qualify as a quiet zone crossing upon completion.
May 2020: The anticipated schedule for the Town’s portion of the work is July 2020. Town staff is still waiting to receive a schedule from the railroad for their work, which is dependent on social distancing for COVID-19 to be lifted before their crews are authorized to begin work.
All of the Town’s required work has been completed. As of October 20, the railroad anticipates installing the signals the first week in December, which is a delay from the early November install date previously communicated. At this time the railroad is waiting on materials to be delivered and a meter to be installed by Poudre Valley REA (which is experiencing delays due to Cameron Peak fire damage).
Staff hopes that the railroad will have the equipment installed by the end of the year. Once installed, there is a final notification with a 21 day waiting period for the quiet zone to go into effect.