Monday, June 07, 2010

Frankfort, Mokena, Ill., one step closer to quiet zones

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Frankfort and Mokena, Ill., could become quiet zones for passing trains, but it's likely to take months before residents get relief from the locomotives' blaring horns, The Herald News reports. The Federal Railroad Administration agreed in a letter to allow the villages to go ahead with plans to make the necessary railroad crossing safety upgrades needed before trains on the Canadian National Railway line can be prohibited from sounding their horns. The upgrades may take until next spring to complete, Frankfort Mayor Jim Holland said.

"We're very pleased to hear that the FRA has approved our project for a quiet zone," Holland said. "We intend to get started with the necessary construction as quickly as possible and get this implemented for our residents."

Both villages are pushing ahead with efforts to get the quiet zone approval ahead of an expected jump in the number of freight trains rumbling through town as part of CN's acquisition of the EJ&E Railroad. Nearly 30 trains are expected to eventually pass through per day.

The EJ&E rails acquired by CN in 2008 cut through many area communities, including Chicago Heights, Park Forest, New Lenox, Frankfort and Mokena. The move was intended to relieve rail congestion in many Chicago neighborhoods by diverting trains that would have gone into the city to the 198-mile EJ&E route that circles the city.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, of Crete, had submitted a letter to the FRA endorsing the villages' plans.

With the quiet zones in place, trains only would be required to sound their horns in emergency situations. The railroad is supposed to pay for the crossing upgrades, which include new medians to prevent cars from maneuvering around gates.

Frankfort has six crossings from Harlem Avenue to 116th Avenue.

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