Rantoul weighing study on silencing train horns

Rantoul weighing study on silencing train horns

RANTOUL — The days of blaring train horns at all hours could become a thing of the past.

The village board will consider a proposal to authorize a $20,000 quiet-zone study to determine whether railroad engines could be safely prohibited from sounding their horns within the village. The board is expected to vote on the issue at Tuesday's monthly meeting.

Baxter & Woodman Consulting Engineers would prepare the study.

A quiet zone is a section of rail line at least a half-mile in length that contains one or more consecutive public highway-rail grade crossings at which locomotive horns are not routinely sounded when trains are approaching the crossings. It does not apply to train-horn use within passenger stations.

The study will evaluate the seven at-grade railroad crossings in Rantoul. At issue is whether they would be safe if trains did not sound their horns.

Trustee Jeremy Reale said he doesn't see a problem with locomotives blowing their horns. Others, however, do.

Mayor Chuck Smith said of the top-five complaints he receives, noise from train horns is probably No. 3.

The horns are allowed to be sounded at any time of day.

"It is a high priority for a lot of people in the community," Smith said, "so I think it's worth us taking a $20,000 look to see if we can't solve this problem."

Said Trustee Hank Gamel, "Having heard those train horns 24/7 for a period of 30 years, I wish this had been an eligibility (possibility) maybe 15 years ago or so."

Gamel said he wonders whether the village is receiving more complaints because people know some communities are banning the horns.

Trustee Chad Smith questioned whether the village's liability would increase if the ban is enacted.

Village attorney Ken Beth said it might, "but these liabilities are always fact, and the issue is going to be whether we are negligent in installing something that was not safe or not maintaining something that became unsafe. That's probably not a whole lot different than what we have right now."

The seven Rantoul crossings of the Canadian National tracks are at Murray Road, Chandler Road, a private crossing, Sangamon Avenue, Grove Avenue, Campbell Avenue and a township road.

Baxter & Woodman would evaluate each crossing for potential modification options and their costs. The absence of routine horn sounding increases the risk of a crossing collision, and as a result, measures would have to be taken to mitigate the risk.

State, federal and rail authorities would then review the proposed changes. If approved, the village would then budget and fund the proposed crossing improvements.

Rantoul would be perhaps the first downstate community to develop a quiet zone. There are about 44 communities in Illinois that have quiet-zone designations, according to the proposed agreement with the company.

Dave Hinton is editor of the Rantoul Press, a News-Gazette community newspaper. For more, visit rantoulpress.com.


How the rules would be different in Rantoul if a "quiet zone" is established, according to the Federal Railroad Administration:

Trains must begin to sound their horns at least 15 seconds, and no more than 20 seconds, in advance of all public grade crossings.

Horns must be sounded in a standardized pattern of two long, one short and one long blasts.

The maximum volume for the horn is 110 decibels. The minimum is 96.

Railroads are directed to cease the routine sounding of train horns when approaching crossings.

Horns may be used only in emergency situations or to comply with other federal regulations.

Establishing a quiet zone does not eliminate the use of locomotive bells at crossings.

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danrice56 wrote on June 09, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Yeah, trains not sounding their horns as they pass through town. Nope, no danger there. Glad I don't live in Rantoul. Maybe they should also ban those frightening mechanical birds that fly high overhead on occasion, and probably release chemicals that land in the local waters and make everyone sterile. Oh, and cameras that steal your soul when a picture is taken.

borderbelle wrote on June 09, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Barring train horns at intersections is just asking for trouble.  Today people still drive around crossing gates even if they hear the horns. Can you picture what would happen if there are no horns ??   You can't fix stupid.  Every lawyer not worth his salt would be hovering if/when there is an accident.   Who are they going to sue ? Can't sue the rail roads because they are doing what they were told.  Going to sue Rantoul ?   Rantoul better save the $20,000 and put it aside.  People complaining about the noise the horns make have nothing  better to complain about.   And yes, I have lived near rarilroads and have heard the horns.


Townie616 wrote on June 09, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Really? 20,000 to see whether people who bought houses near railroad tracks should have to hear the horns? Rantoul should really spend that money where it is needed more.  It would be pretty easy to find a project more urgent than this study

borderbelle wrote on June 09, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I agree with Townie616...  if you bought a house near an  e x i s t i n g  railroad, too bad so sad.  It was there before you were.  Just like someone complaining about the noise an airplane makes when you move near an airport.   What do you want them to do...move the airport ?!?!??!   No different.

Citizen wrote on June 10, 2014 at 7:06 pm

So Rantoul is going to waste $20k to do a study to quiet trains that will result in a liability to the city when an accident does occur may cost the city $2 million or more in liability?

Even if the railroad agreed to silencing their horns does anyone believe there will not be a contract the city will have to sign releasing the railroad from liability should and when an accident involves the victim from saying "they didn't hear the horn"...who do you think will be in court? The City of Rantoul and every elected official in charge and your tax dollars.

So save the 20k and forget the issue. It is dumber than dumb to consider having any train crossing not be announced by an incoming train.

Regarding those who have Chosen to live in the vicinity of a train track...you knew it when you bought or rented it.

I find it unbelievable people would even consider spending a single tax  dollar for what common sense says is obvious.

After nearly 60 years living with a private railroad crossing...I know how important that one time a train blows its horn can be. When a train and a vehicle collides...the train always wins and rare is one in the vehicle will be able live to tell about it.

Yes save the 20k, Rantoul...and just say no to this type of change.

danrice56 wrote on June 11, 2014 at 7:06 pm

44 communities in illinois do this already? Which ones, so I can stay 

Out of Deliverance country?

Maryard wrote on June 11, 2014 at 11:06 pm

The issue here is the lack of compliance to regulation among the engineers. The trains passing through town DO NOT follow regulation for horn usage. Yes, my house was purchased with the knowledge of the tracks nearby. It was not purchased to hear a large train perform "shave and a haircut" at 3am.

Either enforce standards or instate a quiet time. Does this require a study? No. But something does need to change. The sheer number of trains using these lines has increased dramatically in the last several years, many running overnight. Those living nearby should not be woken up multiple times due to unnecessary noise from amateur ham operators or budding percussionists practicing their hobbies while driving a giant train at midnight.