GRIFFITH | Sometimes people will dash out of their cars and run into Eric Gutridge's gunsmith shop on Broad Street and ask if he can blue a barrel or work on a gun sight.
When the line of cars outside starts moving again, they'll run just as fast the other way so people won't start cursing or worse as the train they were all waiting for clears Griffith Junction.
“The trains don't bother me,” Gutridge says. “In fact, when people are out there sitting in their cars they can just look out the window and see what I do.”
But for John's Pizzeria owner Nick Mileusnic just a few doors north, the trains are nothing but a pain. And it's ditto for his customers.
“If you are caught on the wrong side of the tracks, you will be waiting forever,” he says of the spider web of tracks just 200 feet south of the shop. “People are constantly complaining. It just gets worse and worse.”
He believes the economy may have had something to do with the hit on his business the past few years, but he knows the increased train traffic is part of it as well.
All over Griffith, people give the mixed reviews to the train traffic that has built steadily in volume ever since Canadian National's controversial purchase of the EJ&E line five years ago.
Griffith was identified as one of three communities that would be most severely impacted by the purchase, with seven street crossings along the EJ&E line alone.
“If I leave my house just a little late for work in the morning, it means I'm stuck by a train on my way,” said Dana Yates, at Tot Park.
Those trains run on the other side of a chain link fence and line of trees that are just two examples of the $6 million in Griffith improvements installed by Canadian National since the EJ&E purchase.
Most of the money has gone into making crossings safer. In fact, they have now been made safe enough that the trains no longer need blast their horns when transiting through town.
Since the purchase, quiet zones have also been implemented in Schererville, Dyer and Lynwood. Almost everyone seems to count that as a blessing.
At the EJ&E crossing at Hart Street in Dyer, business owner Stanley Hendricks agrees the quiet zones are the most significant benefit to emerge from the rail deal five years ago.
"That was big for us," he said. "It felt like the train was right in here when the horn was blowing."
The backside of the building housing Hendrick's travel agency and executive search service sits just 10 feet from the north track of the double-track EJ&E. He believes Canadian National has delivered on its promises to mitigate the effects of the increased rail traffic.
Still, train traffic has more than doubled outside his door and Hendricks can't help but worry about the future, when even more trains are forecast. Most recently, Hendricks heard of a proposal in Chicago to tax hazardous rail shipments.
"That would shift all that stuff down here to us, so that's an issue," he said. "Once all that is routed around Chicago, it could end up down here."