by Dennis Sullivan
Feb. 12, 2014
Mayor Mike Einhorn was all smiles Tuesday morning after learning a new signal for southbound trains is being installed south of the Herman Street Crossing. The new equipment should reduce the number of times Crete railroad crossings are blocked by trains parked south of 35th Street.
“Hallelujah! I suggested that two years ago. That should make things go faster,” Einhorn responded, later estimating the blockages occur at least once a month.
But the primary purpose of Einhorn’s and Village Engineer Bill Stefek’s meeting Tuesday with a five-person diagnostic team was to determine what improvements Crete needs to make, and how much those improvements will cost, to establish quiet crossings at selected at-grade crossings.
The Federal Railroad Agency requires train engineers to sound the horn at all train crossings unless they’ve been designated as quiet crossings.
Einhorn alerted village trustees during Monday’s village board meeting that the diagnostic team would be arriving at 10 a.m. to review Crete’s situation.
Roughly 14 hours later, he was back at the village hall with Stefek and the representatives from the FRA, Union-Pacific/CSX, Illinois Department of Transportation and Will County.
After a brief introductory meeting, they boarded a small PACE bus and inspected the proposed quiet-crossing sites.
‘A once-in-a-lifetime thing’
Einhorn later termed the visit “a once-in-a-lifetime thing for us. You want to make sure that your assessments are correct and the only way to do that is you go to the people who do it everyday.”
(Not that Einhorn is uninformed on the issue. In 2004, he offered testimony before the FRA on its quiet zone rules. In 2006 the village paid $7,500 for an engineering firm to study the local issue.)
Einhorn said he’s revising his original letter seeking quiet-zone status to incorporate the diagnostic team’s comments and address alternate safety measures.
“It really becomes a matter of what they accept and what they don’t accept,” he said. “They hold all the cards.
“It’s gonna take time and we have to figure out if we have the money to do it,” Einhorn said, guessing the figure would be “around $50,000.”
Einhorn said train-crossing noise is more of a concern for current residents than persons considering buying a home.
“Most of the time, people find ‘the home of their dreams’ and don’t even recognize there is a potential problem — it’s all background noise,” he said. “They buy the home, move in and all of a sudden it’s, ‘Oh dear. I have a problem.'”
If and when Crete gets its quiet crossings, Einhorn said he hopes that train nose will be replaced by social-media noise that “will be good noise, with people saying, ‘Aren’t you glad you don’t have to hear that anymore?'”
Original material copyright 2014 Eastern Will County News; all rights reserved.
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