Installation of wayside horns delayed

By Shivangi Potdar

The city’s plan to decrease noise pollution from passing trains by installing wayside horns has been put off until next year.

The wayside horns were originally intended to be functional by this winter, but the new deadline may be spring or summer 2006, city engineer Joel Maurer said.

The city is working with the Illinois Commerce Commission to get approval, he said.

The horns were tested in May and were found to limit the sound of train horns to a four-block radius.

They will be installed at four crossings and Sixth Street will be turned into a one-way northbound street with a full gate closure, Maurer said.

Locomotives will not have to blow their horns anymore once wayside horns are installed, he said. Cars within 200 to 300 feet will hear the noise, but the sound will dissipate quickly.

About 70 trains travel through DeKalb daily and bring life to a stand still for some local businesses each time they blow horns.

“At McDonald’s when the train blows its horn, we can’t hear customers over the intercom,” said junior health sciences major Marcia Gray, and employee at McDonald’s, 805 W. Lincoln Highway.

Gray, who is also a resident of Colonial Townhomes, located close to the train tracks at 1004 to 1010 W. Lincoln Highway, said the noise was too loud and too often.

Some business owners agree.

“It is very loud and disturbing, and you have to wait when it’s blowing the horn to have a conversation,” said Megan Morrison owner of Moxie, 230 E. Lincoln Highway, and Megan Morrison Home & Garden, 237 E. Lincoln Highway. “It seems like they come through every eight minutes, so it’s something you have to deal with quite often,” she said.

Others said they are used to the sound of the trains rushing through the city.

“They are loud, but they don’t bother me,” said Vickie Obermiller, owner of Kids Stuff, 248 E. Lincoln Highway. “But customers do complain sometimes,”

The wayside horns will cost about $600,000 to install, Maurer said.