The effort to bring quieter railroad warning horns to the Mill Creek area was a long story full of sound and fury, but in the end, signifying something. For the first time in more than a decade, residents will have some relief from train noise.
Starting the week of June 22, 2015, crews will begin installing railroad wayside warning horns at the Union Pacific Railroad crossings of LaFox Road and Brundidge Road, weather permitting. Construction work hours will be from 7 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday for approximately the next two months.
The process of bringing those horns to Kane County started back in 2007, when County Board member Drew Frasz was campaigning for a County Board seat. “When I knocked on doors in Mill Creek, that (train noise) was the first comment they’d hit me with,” Frasz said.
After he won election, Frasz approached then state Sen. Chris Lauzen about possible funding. Lauzen’s office researched the project and agreed to support an appropriations request, but in the course of the next eight years, a lot of stuff happened. Chicago & Northwestern Railroad was sold to the Union Pacific Railroad, the project was stymied by myriad political transitions, regulatory red-tape and state-funding hurdles, and all the while, train traffic was growing almost exponentially with the addition of UP freight trains and new commuter stations in Elburn and LaFox.
“It was the longest project I’ve been involved with,” Frasz said. “Even after we were granted the money, it took almost two years to receive the money. That was my learning experience in state government.”
The work will consist of the installation of foundations, electrical equipment, electrical service and warning horns. Each intersection is expected to take approximately 30 days to complete, weather permitting. The majority of this work will be done outside of the public right of way, thus minimizing impact to the motoring public.
At various stages of the installation, temporary daily lane closures may be required to complete this work. KDOT asks drivers to watch for workers ahead, flaggers, and reduce speed while traveling through the construction zone. Motorists should expect minor delays and possible increased travel times during the installation of the warning horns.
Questions and concerns may be directed to John Guddendorf at 630-816-9671. For all Kane County traffic advisories, see the Kane County Division of Transportation website.
The Wayside Horn System is designed to alert cars at the crossroads of approaching trains without blasting surrounding neighborhoods.
“The strange thing about train horns is that you can hear them for 4 square miles,” Frasz said. “(The Wayside Horn) is a highly directional horn on the crossing gate and aimed where car would be. If you get just a few feet off that, it’s noticeably lower. The tone of the horn is deep and doesn’t make you jump out of your skin.
“If you’re out in your yard, you might hear a distant, low horn, but this will reduce the noise — in my experience, unscientifically speaking — by 95 percent.”
About the Wayside Horn System
The stationary wayside horn system is mounted at the crossings, rather than on the locomotive, and is directly interconnected to the railroad’s crossing signal warning system. The horn directs a long, loud and consistent audible warning signal to motorists and pedestrians who are using or are in the close vicinity to the crossing. The grant-funded project will benefit the public by improving safety for motorists and pedestrians at the railroad / roadway at-grade crossings while reducing the amount of noise pollution created by train horns along the rail corridor.