Crete considers 'quiet zones' at railroad crossings

2013-11-03T23:30:00Z Crete considers 'quiet zones' at railroad crossingsGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 03, 2013 11:30 pm  • 

CRETE | Village officials plan to spend coming weeks studying what, if anything, they can do to reduce the noise from freight trains that pass through Crete.

Village President Michael Einhorn described several options last week to the board he’d like to see implemented to try to control the noise pollution caused by trains.

Einhorn told trustees that at the five railroad crossings in Crete, he’d like to see either quadrant gates set up, or possibly special horns erected on posts at the crossings.

The gates would make it impossible for motorists to drive around lowered gates and try to beat a coming freight train, thereby lessening the need for freight trains to blow horns.

In the case of the special horns, they would activate when sensors detected a coming freight train, which would not have to blow its own horns.

While those horns would still make some noise, Einhorn said the speakers could be positioned and the volume set in ways to prevent it from directly impacting nearby residents.

“We’d have a bit of control over them,” he said.

Cost could be an issue. Einhorn said he has been told the special horns would cost about $80,000 apiece, while installing the quadrant gates could cost up to $320,000 per intersection.

Einhorn said he has no idea where Crete municipal government would come up with the money to pay for this. Nor does he know what the most cost-effective combination of special horns and quadrant gates would be.

“We can give (Crete residents) a quality set-up as long as we’re willing to pay for it,” he said.

Einhorn, who on occasion has met with railroad officials to discuss noise-related issues and his desire for a railroad “Quiet Zone,” said he thinks part of the problem is that railroad officials don’t have the interests of the communities their trains pass through as a priority.

“They’re concerned about something getting in the path of the train because it might make the train derail,” he said.

Federal officials said local governments must cooperate with the railroads that own the tracks, and the Illinois Department of Transportation would convene a diagnostic team to determine the risk of collision at each grade crossing where a train horn would be silenced.

Village trustees had little to say about the issue, mostly listening while Einhorn outlined it for them. Trustee Daniel Taylor said he is pleased the issue is being discussed.

“There is interest (among Crete residents) about this, I must get asked two times a week about the noise,” Taylor said. “I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like the horns are getting louder and the engineers are leaning on them longer.”

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