Mundelein’s train tracks go silent
Mundelein was among the first to get automated horns installed on railroad gates to reduce the sound from train horns. Now, Mundelein is removing them, making the neighborhood quieter. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
About 40 trains per day travel through Mundelein. The railroad tracks cross seven roads:
• Butterfield Road
• Illinois Route 60
• Allanson Road
• Hawley Street
• Park Street
• Illinois Route 176
• Winchester Road
Updated: January 3, 2013 9:58AM
MUNDELEIN – Railroad crossings in Mundelein will soon go silent.
After the village invested years worth of studies and trials into getting automated horns installed on crossing gates, the equipment will be uninstalled so neighboring residents can be at peace.
Before Mundelein installed the automated horns in 2001, trains would emit the warnings as they approached crossings.
“When the trains sounded their horns, the noise went in a 360-degree radius and people all throughout town in every direction could hear it,” Village Administrator John Lobaito said. “With the automated horns, the noise was sent in only one direction: toward oncoming traffic.”
Mundelein was among the first communities in the country to get automated horns.
The complaints kept coming in, but in fewer numbers. Residents immediately surrounding the village’s seven crossings were still affected.
“Complaints eventually dropped off because people thought the village would never change it,” Lobaito said. “But in the last two years, we’ve been telling people that we’re working on it.”
In 2005, new laws allowed for “quiet zones” to be established based on certain safety points.
A quiet zone from Antioch to Wheeling was created and all of the towns north of Mundelein were able to remove their automated horns while still prohibiting train whistles.
The zone, however, is maintained based on all the villages’ combined safety measures.
“There is a point system and automated horns, like other things, carry a point value,” Lobaito said. “Us removing our horns would have ruined it for everyone else because there wouldn’t be enough points to constitute a quiet zone.”
Assistant Village Administrator Mike Flynn took the lead and alerted all the other towns of Mundelein’s intention.
In place of the automated horns, Mundelein spent about $40,000 on expanding curbed medians along the Allanson Road crossing and the Route 60 crossing.
“Audio horns or whistles are the safest precaution at a crossing, but medians are also permitted, and they provide a substantial level of prevention too,” Flynn said.
The 100-foot medians at all seven crossings would block motorists from driving around crossing gates.
Now that other villages added extra amenities, Mundelein will finally remove the horns.
After getting initial approval from the railroad companies and Federal Railroad Administration, Mundelein’s Village Board approval Dec. 10 sends a final request to the Illinois Commerce Commission.
Flynn said the horns should be removed by February. Trustees approved just over $14,000 for a contractor to remove the equipment.