Extra caution requested once routine train horns cease
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (March 7, 2019) – “I’m pleased to announce we’re nearing the end of the Quiet Zone process,” said Robinson Engineering’s Jeff Pintar at the March 5 Committee of the Whole meeting. Pintar serves as Village Engineer for Lansing, and he has spent the past several years helping the village fulfill CSX Railroad’s requirements in order to designate Lansing crossings as Quiet Zones.
“We are targeting a March 11 start to the Quiet Zone,” Pintar said cautiously. “We could always hear back from them that they want to extend that out…but as of now we are in full compliance with the federal regulations, so we are targeting a March 11 start to the Quiet Zone.”
Pintar clarified that having the Quiet Zones in place does not mean Lansing will never hear a train horn again. First, a transition period is common when a Quiet Zone is newly introduced, giving train engineers time to adapt to the new policy and become comfortable changing their routine. “So we do ask the residents to be patient; you are going to hear the horns,” said Pintar. “Once the engineers get accustomed to it in the next month or so, and the residents get accustomed to adhering to the safety regulations, you’re going to hear that horn less and less and less. But it is a process.”
Also, only routine train horn sounding will cease; train engineers will still have the option to sound the horn whenever they feel it is necessary for safety reasons. For example, if an engineer sees a pedestrian near the tracks, he might choose to sound the horn to ensure that the pedestrian is aware the train is approaching.
“The safety of our residents is of utmost importance to us; therefore, we fully understand and encourage train horns to sound as needed in these situations,” said Ken Reynolds, Director of Communications for the Village, in a statement issued today.
The Village is encouraging motorists and pedestrians to take extra caution around railroad tracks once the Quiet Zones go into effect. The “No Train Horn” signs that have been installed are intended to remind people to be observant when approaching train tracks. And the delineators that have been installed at the crossings are intended to deter motorists from circumventing the gates when they are down.
Not only is it potentially dangerous to cross tracks once the red lights begin to flash, it is also illegal. In 2016, because of the high number of train-related fatalities in Illinois, a new law was passed that doubled the fines for disregarding railroad crossing lights. The fine for a first-time offense is now $500; each subsequent offense will be fined $1,000.
The seven railroad crossings in Lansing that will be converted to Quiet Zones are: Volbrecht Road, Thornton-Lansing Road, Ridge Road, Torrence Avenue, Burnham Avenue, 186th Street, and Wentworth Avenue.
Quiet Zone chronology:
- Railroad Quiet Zones ‘close to implementation’ (November 2017)
- Railroad Quiet Zones still in process (April 2018)
- Quiet Zones require Lansing road closures (November 2018)
- Quiet Zone delineator installation begins (November 2018)
- Quiet Zone delineators and signage in place (December 2018)