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Project advances to install LaFox roadside horns for trains

GENEVA – Kane County’s government has taken another step toward making Mill Creek and LaFox quieter places to live.

Friday, the Kane County Board’s Transportation Committee recommended approval of a contract with an engineering company to perform final design work on plans to install so-called wayside horns at two railroad crossings in LaFox, near Mill Creek.

The $63,000 contract would be awarded to Hanson Professional Services, of Oak Brook, to oversee the final phases of engineering work for the project. The cost would be paid from a state grant, said Tom Rickert, deputy director at the Kane County Division of Transportation.

Kane County officials, led by Kane County Board member Drew Frasz, R-Elburn, who now chairs the transportation committee, have sought to complete the LaFox train horn project for years.

Frasz said residents of LaFox and Mill Creek have complained for years to him and other officials about the noise produced by the dozens of trains rolling through LaFox daily on the Union Pacific Railroad line.

By law, locomotive engineers are required to blow the horns as they approach each rail crossing. But the noise produced by the horns travels far beyond the rail crossing, disturbing those living near the tracks and those miles away at all hours of the day.

To reduce the noise, Frasz and county transportation officials seized on the idea of the wayside horns. The automated devices work by blasting a noise similar to locomotive horns, but aiming it directly at vehicles and pedestrians at the rail crossing, greatly limiting the range at which the horns are heard.

Such wayside horns have been installed locally at Union Pacific rail crossings in Elburn and DeKalb, producing the results desired.

Under the project now proposed, the county would install the horns at the Union Pacific rail crossings at LaFox Road and at Brundige Road, near those roads’ intersections with Keslinger Road.

Rickert said the wayside horns could be installed in early 2014.

“We’re trying to move as fast as we can on this,” he said.

The cost of the construction would be funded through $250,000 in grants and appropriations for the project from the state, Frasz said.

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