Planning Commission recommends wayside horns

By on August 28, 2009

Installation at crossings could allow for train whistle reduction
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Wayside horns are the way to go in Maple Park to reduce train whistle noise, according to the village’s Planning Commission. The Commission on Aug. 21 recommended that the Village Board approve pursuing the project.

The Planning Commission’s proposal is to install wayside horns at the County Line Road and the Liberty Street rail crossings. With the stationary horns, the crossings could meet federal safety requirements for a semi-quiet zone.

Wayside horns emit their sound only in the area of the crossing, producing less noise than train whistles, whose blares can be heard throughout the community. Train whistles would only sound if the wayside horns were not functioning or engineers saw potential hazards on or near the tracks.

If the Village Board approves of the proposal in September, the next step for the village will be to apply to the Illinois Commerce Commission for approval of the wayside horns as a safety measure allowing for a semi-quiet zone in Maple Park, Planning Commissioner Dale Weir said.

The plan as proposed could involve reducing the number of crossings in the village to two, by closing the Pleasant Road crossing.

Elburn recently installed wayside horns at its First Street and its Main Street rail crossings. Several months earlier, DeKalb acquired wayside horns for its downtown crossings.

Wayside horns are planned for crossings in La Fox, funded by state money Kane County Board member Drew Frasz successfully sought for the county.

Weir and Frasz are expected to present more information on the proposal during the Sept. 21 Committee of the Whole meeting, answering questions and outlining funding options.

“Maple Park still has a lot homework to do,” Village President Kathy Curtis said.

At the Sept. 21 meeting, Weir and Curtis plan to ask trustees whether they want the village to proceed with a cost/benefit analysis of the project.

The cost for each crossing is approximately $100,000. Maple Park could receive state financial assistance to pay for the wayside horns under a county project, spearheaded by Frasz, to install stationary horns at crossings westward from La Fox to just beyond Maple Park if the county obtains enough state funding.