by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARKâ€”Maple Park officials know that reducing train whistles in the village would increase the quality of life for residents, they said. They do not know, however, what the financial burden would be for the proposed solution-installing wayside horns at village train crossings.
â€œMaple Park needs hard numbers on the village’s piece of the expense before we can commit to moving forward with a wayside horn project,â€ Village President Kathy Curtis said Sept. 23.
The Maple Park Planning Commission recommended in August that the Village Board approve pursuing the project. But Curtis said the board first will determine the project cost.
Drew Frasz, Kane County Board member from District 26, said Maple Park possibly could receive financial help from the state to pay for the wayside horns.
Elburn recently installed wayside horns at the First Street and the Main Street rail crossings, for approximately $260,000. Frasz said the cost for wayside horns could decrease in the future as more municipalities install them.
The Planning Commission’s proposed installing wayside horns at the County Line Road and the Liberty Street rail crossings. With the stationary horns, which emit their sound only in the area of the crossing, the village could meet federal safety requirements for a semi-quiet zone.
Train whistles would only sound if the wayside horns were not functioning or engineers saw potential hazards on or near the tracks.
The plan as proposed could involve reducing the number of crossings in the village to two, by closing the Pleasant Road crossing.
The state already has designated funds in its budget this year to help the county pay for wayside horns at two crossings near La Fox next year, through a county project that Frasz spearheaded to install stationary horns at crossings westward from La Fox to just beyond Maple Park.
Frasz presented information about the county project during Maple Park’s Sept. 21 Committee of the Whole meeting.