Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Orland Park, Ill., on track to become quiet zone

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Orland Park, Ill., is moving forward with efforts to become a railway quiet zone, local newspapers report. At a public works and engineering committee meeting, Robinson Engineering recommended channeling poles be installed at railroad crossings at 159th Street and at Wolf Road. The poles are installed at the center line near the railroad crossing to prevent cars from going around the gates, Robinson Engineering representative Jeff Pintar explained.

The project is part of a plan developed by the firm to help the village qualify as a quiet zone. The designation is made by the Federal Railway Administration after it reviews all of the crossings in the village with regards to the safety measures and risks associated with each crossing.

There are nine crossings for the Metra Southwest Service line in the village and one stop at 86th Avenue in unincorporated Palos Township, Pintar said. The crossings are at 135th Street, 143rd Street, West Avenue, 153rd Street, 159th Street, 167th Street, 179th Street, 108th Avenue and Wolf Road.

There is $30,000 budgeted this year for the engineering work and $30,000 budgeted for the next couple of fiscal years for safety improvements to the crossings, village manager Paul Grimes said. The cost of the channeling devices at $12,000 per crossing is significantly less expensive than raised curbs or four quadrant gates, Pintar said.

The 159th Street and Wolf Road crossings were selected for upgrades due to their high volume of traffic, he said. The Illinois Department of Transportation will need to approve the devices for those crossings before work can begin.

The village does not need to install poles at every crossing in order to become a quiet zone, Pintar said. Other factors, such as accident rates, will help the village qualify, he said.

The next step for the village is to issue a notice of intent for establishing a railroad crossing quiet zone. Agencies such as Metra and any freight lines that use the railroad will then have 60 days to comment, Pintar said.

Charlotte Cobb, who lives near the Wolf Road crossing, said she has been working with the village for two years to try to get quiet zones.

"When I first moved here, there were three trains a day. Now, there are 15 and it (the horns) start at 4:30 a.m.," Cobb said.

The quiet zone could be instituted by late next spring or early summer, depending on the approval of various agencies, village officials said.

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