EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Excessive train whistles deprive Cal City of sleep

2012-10-14T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Excessive train whistles deprive Cal City of sleepBy Terry McCullough nwitimes.com
October 14, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Train whistle noise in Calumet City wakes me up every morning at around 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 a.m. It is so loud and unbearable that you can’t help but wake up.

I would hate to think that the “train drivers” are getting a kick out of blasting their whistles or that they are insensitive to the effects of this extreme noise on residents of my community.

An open field acts as a megaphone to intensify the noise to the point that many times it sounds like the train is right outside our bedroom windows. No choice but to wake up.

Our City Council’s attempt to establish a quiet zone restricting the noise these train whistles can make after a certain time of day has been met with mixed response.

People who do not live under these conditions can’t seem to get the point that while trains approaching intersections do need to warn oncoming traffic to beware of their approach, there is something called excessive and unnecessary whistle blowing.

The crossing in question is in fact a private road. Between 5 and 6 a.m. there is no traffic crossing these tracks. On the other side of the tracks is a gated private drive that truck drivers must enter a code to gain access to the warehouse yard. The area is posted with no trespassing sign warnings to further alert anyone entering the area. So 15 to 30 seconds of loud train whistle seems unreasonable.

I stopped by the factory entrance to talk with truck drivers waiting to load some items from the warehouse on the other side of the tracks. That was a very interesting conversation.

I explained I was writing a column about the problem because I felt the noise is totally unnecessary and there must be something residents can do to at least get the train conductor or whistle man to take into consideration the health and well-being of residents of the community they are passing through.

“Good luck,” I was told “The railroad companies settle many lawsuits filed by families of motorists who are killed trying to beat the train, even when the gates are down and the lights are flashing, private drive or not.” “They” are not concerned about sleep deprivation of people living close to their tracks.

I know the national rail system is responsible keeping this country going, and without it everything would come to a screeching halt. But there has to be a solution to the noise.

With today’s technological advances can’t someone come up with a device that will shut a vehicle down if it attempts to cross when gates are down? Or how about speakers at the crossing that will announce an approaching train? How about a gadget on the dashboard of vehicles or more intensive lights at the crossing?

All I know is that I need a good night's sleep.

Terry McCullough is program manager for the Thornton Township Youth Committee. The opinions are the writer's.

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