CALUMET CITY | CSX railroad officials told the City Council on Tuesday they are willing to work with state and federal officials to address concerns about the noise from freight trains passing through Calumet City.
But Tom Livingston, a regional vice president for the railroad, also told the aldermen during a meeting of the council’s Public Utilities committee that many of the federal regulations requiring engineers to sound whistles and horns at certain spots are with public safety in mind. There may be instances where little can be done to reduce noise, he said.
“We’re going to have to sound our horns at certain times, but we certainly can check to make sure our engineers aren’t being overzealous,” Livingston said.
The visit by railroad executives came in response to concerns expressed by 1st Ward Alderman Eric Schneider in recent months. He says freight trains passing through the State Street/State Line Road intersection blow their horns so loud and so often that he has heard countless complaints from residents.
“It’s a quality of life issue,” Schneider said. “I don’t know if I’m just paying closer attention, but it seems like I see and hear (train horns) more and more.”
Livingston, along with CSX community affairs manager Jason Holden, said residents who have complaints about specific incidents can contact the railroad at 1-877-TELLCSX.
While railroad officials might not be able to reduce the instances of train noise, Livingston said calls to that hotline could result in an explanation to residents.
“At least they can find a way to respond about why the horn had to be sounded at that time,” he said.
Third Ward Alderman Thaddeus Jones, who also serves as a state representative from the south suburbs, arranged for CSX officials to appear before the City Council committee. He said he hopes railroad officials will cooperate with city desires to reduce the amount of freight train noise.
Livingston said CSX officials are willing to work with the Illinois Commerce Commission, along with Indiana officials and the Federal Railroad Administration for changes in regulations that could reduce the number of times that trains sound their horns.
The bi-state nature of negotiations results because the intersection in question is on the Illinois-Indiana border. Any attempt to impose a quiet zone around State Street and State Line Road would have to be a cooperative effort between Calumet City and Hammond. Livingston said any additional expenses caused by such a zone would have to be paid by the municipalities.
CSX maintains its operations center in Calumet City, controlling the movement of trains from Toledo, Ohio, to the Mississippi River and into Michigan from that location. Livingston said some 70 to 90 trains a day pass through the area on CSX-controlled tracks.
“They can present challenges, but we try to keep an open ear,” Livingston said.