Tag Archives: Illinois Commerce Commission

Wayside horns could reduce train whistles by this summer

by Martha Quetsch
Elburn must wait a few more months for the wayside horns that, for the most part, will rid the village of train whistles.

The horns will be installed at both the First Street and the Main Street railroad crossings in Elburn, a project the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) approved last December after a five-month review.

Now, the ICC must approve of the project construction contract between the village and Union Pacific Railroad (UP) before installation can begin.

ICC approval likely will take 60 to 90 days from when the Village Board approves the UP contract, which could be as soon as March 16, Village Administrator David Morrison said.

“Both (contracts) could be approved next week (Monday’s Village Board meeting), if insurance issues are cleared up,” Morrison said.

Under the contract with UP, the village will be required to carry railroad liability insurance for the wayside horn system, at a cost village staff is determining.

Trustee Craig Swan wants the Village Board to approve the UP contract as soon as possible.

“It (the wayside horn project) still remains a top priority for people in town,” Swan said.

The UP agreement is necessary because the railroad owns the property on which the village will install the horns. Under the agreement, the village will pay UP $2,500 for a real estate license and a $54,524 deposit for railroad work related to the wayside horn project. The village also will have to pay UP for the railroad company’s flagger services during the project.

For wayside horn installation and materials, the village will pay the company, Railroad Controls Limited, $93,640 for the Main Street crossing wayside horn, and $101,637 for the First Street crossing horn.

The total cost of the wayside horn project for both crossings, including engineering and consultant fees, equipment and installation, is approximately $300,000, less than other options village officials proposed in the past to meet federal safety requirements for a quiet zone.

The wayside horns will direct the horn sound only toward the immediate area of pedestrian and vehicular traffic near the crossings. Trains still will blow their whistles if the wayside horn lights are not functioning, or if the locomotive engineer sees a safety hazard.

Last April, village trustees agreed to pursue the least costly method to silence train whistles in the village in compliance with federal safety regulations. They decided installing wayside horns at the First Street and Main Street rail crossings were the solution.

The total estimated cost for a previous proposal to install a center barrier of pylons at the First Street crossing—was $400,000, village engineers said.

Elburn village notes

by Martha Quetsch

Youth baseball group wants field signs

            Elburn Baseball and Softball officials want to erect two signs at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center playing fields to promote the organization and highlight its sponsors.

            Club representative Steve Woods asked the Elburn Village Board Dec. 15 to approve the request for the signs, which he said would be about four-by-six feet in size and made of thick, corrugated plastic.

            Village trustees said before they OK the signs, they want to see a picture showing what they would look like, and have village staff draft an agreement related to the signs’ maintenance. Woods said the signs would remain in place during the organization’s season, between May 1 through Sept. 9.
 

Higher village property taxes won’t  increase homeowner bill

            The Elburn Village Board on Dec. 15 approved the amount it will ask the county to levy in village property taxes for 2008, $947,530.

            Trustees OK’d the proposed levy following a public hearing.

            Village officials do not expect the county to approve that amount. Last year, Elburn trustees asked the county to levy $953,502 in village property taxes for 2007; the eventual amount the county approved was $687,451.

            Each fall, the village typically asks the county for a higher levy than it can expect the county to bill in village property taxes the following May, because annual new growth for the year still is uncertain.

            Elburn’s total property value has risen an average of 16.9 percent annually since 2003. If a municipality underestimates EAV growth in its property tax levy request, it will lose the opportunity to place all of the actual new property value on the tax rolls.

            Even if the county approves a higher levy for Elburn this year, the village portion of property tax bills for 2008 likely will be lower than last year, village officials said.

            The reason is that this year, the village will finish paying off a bond it issued in the past to pay for water and sewer system improvements, resulting in a lower village property tax rate.
 

Commission approves wayside horns for Elburn

            Elburn is another step closer to ridding the community of train whistles, since the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) approved the village’s wayside horn proposal Dec. 3.

            Village officials in July asked the ICC to authorize installation of the wayside horns at the First Street and the Main Street railroad crossings in Elburn as a measure to silence Union Pacific Railroad locomotive whistles in town.

            The total cost of the wayside horn project for both crossings, including engineering and consultant fees, equipment and installation, is approximately $300,000, less than other options village officials proposed in the past to meet federal safety requirements for a quiet zone.

            The village will order the wayside horn system equipment and proceed with installation when they receive it.