CHICAGO | Residents from Hegewisch and other nearby neighborhoods spoke passionately about their frustrations with increasing train traffic during a community meeting Tuesday night at St. Columba Social Center in Chicago’s Hegewisch neighborhood.
Most of the more than 100 attendees raised their hands when asked who has been stopped by trains for more than an hour. Others voiced frustration that trains are stopping behind their homes for long periods of time and sounding their horns at all hours.
Alderman John Pope of the 10th Ward, who was present for part of the meeting, said some reasons for delays are switching issues and mechanical problems.
“I’ve talked to these folks and said if at all possible, make sure you go as far away from the neighborhood as possible,” Pope said. “They said they try to do that. When they do break down, that’s when they’re crossing this rail crossing.”
He said that federal regulations require any trains passing a grade crossing to blow their horns as a safety measure.
Municipalities can request quiet zones to eliminate the horn requirement, and Pope said he has begun the process. It is a long one, he said, with a lot of data and railroad input required.
If it’s found to be necessary, the railroad would have to pay for improvements, including crossing gates and signals.
He also addressed questions about the length of trains, stating that the Federal Railroad Administration does not limit them.
“Trains trump anyone else, so if a train is coming here and a car gets stuck, the car is a lower priority,” he said.
Organizers said officials from North Fork Southern and Indiana Belt Railroad were asked to attend, but could not make it.