by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARKâ€”Like its neighbors to the east and west, Maple Park wants to reduce train-whistle blares in the village.
â€œThe noise level is disturbing to the community,â€ Planning Commmissioner Dale Weir said.
To meet federal safety requirements to rid Maple Park, for the most part, of train whistles, village officials are considering the installation of wayside horns at the rail crossings on County Line Road and on Liberty Street.
Weir and other planning commissioners will talk about that option during their meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, at the Community Center in Maple Park.
Elburn recently installed wayside horns at its First Street and its Main Street crossings. The horns emit their sound only in the area of the crossing, producing less noise than train whistles, whose blares could be heard throughout the village.
Maple Park could receive financial assistance to pay for the wayside horns from the county, under a project proposed by Kane County Board member Drew Frasz. The cost for each crossing is approximately $100,000.
Wayside horns are planned for crossings in La Fox, funded by state money Frasz recently helped to obtain for the county for that purpose.
Frasz is spearheading the county project to install wayside horns at crossings from LaFox westward if the county obtains more state funding. Illinois’ budget this year includes funding for wayside horns at two crossings in LaFox, and Frasz hopes the county will obtain additional state funding in the future for more. Frasz said he wants the entire western part of Kane County to be a semi-quiet zone to improve residents’ quality of life.
Even with the safety measure of wayside horns, the area cannot be a completely quiet zone; trains still will blow their whistles if the wayside horns are not functioning or if locomotive engineers see hazards.
On Thursday, Weir will talk about Frasz’ proposal, and explain how wayside horns work. He also will play videos of the wayside horns in DeKalb, so that residents can see them and hear how they sound.
Weir said that Maple Park, in the past, considered installing another safety device that would have allowed for the reduction of train whistles in the village. That device was a center road median extending from the tracks on County Line and on Liberty, to prevent drivers from scooting around the lowered gates at the crossings. However, that option would not have been practical, he said.
â€œThe reason that won’t work in this community is that we have a lot of big farm equipment that is more than two lanes wide,â€ Weir said.