Maple Park may make railway crossings safer

Village considers wayside horns for railway crossings


MAPLE PARK – The village of Maple Park has authorized Village President Kathy Curtis to submit an application to Union Pacific Railroad for wayside horns to be installed at the railway crossings at County Line Road, Pleasant Street and Liberty Street in Maple Park.

The Village Board approved the decision to submit such an application during its monthly meeting Feb. 6.

“We had investigated the possibility of wayside horns in 2005-2006, but determined we couldn’t afford it,” Curtis said. “The technology has changed so we’ve decided to look again about doing something similar to what DeKalb and Elburn have done.”

It was contended that the safe operation of freight and passenger trains is vital not only to interstate commerce but also to the welfare of local communities, such as Maple Park. The village of Maple Park is supportive of taking the steps necessary to keep train operations safe within the village.

Unlike a horn that’s situated on a locomotive itself, wayside horns are stationary and mounted directly at the railroad crossing in order to provide a more consistent warning to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians with a longer and louder audible alarm. Such horns also eliminate the noise pollution.

“It would be a good thing to be able to reduce the noise throughout the community,” Curtis said. “We do know it’s expensive but we want to re-research what’s available so we’re going to take the steps to find out what we can.”

The resolution cited several statistics, including that the Chicago metropolitan region, one of the nation’s largest and most significant railhubs, is home to approximately 1,500 public at-grade highway-rail crossings, accounting for some 7,800 hours of motorist delay every weekday. Furthermore, more than 280 collisions have taken place at the aforementioned Chicago metropolitan crossings in the region between 2009 and 2014, resulting in 65 fatalities and 146 injuries.

At the forthcoming Infrastructure Committee meeting later in February, the potential wayside horns project will be discussed in further detail. Representatives from Union Pacific are expected to be in attendance, along with Drew Frasz, a Kane County Board member who has experience with railway crossings and wayside horns, and a company that manufactures and installs the horns that will be discuss the available options and costs.