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Train Traffic Set to Spike in Evergreen Park

Railroad officials recently told the Evergreen Park Village Board that train traffic could rise from four trains per day to 23.

Originally published on Evergreen Park Patch

A delegation of railroad officials told Evergreen Park leaders last Monday of their plans to gradually but significantly increase the volume of local rail traffic that rolls past the front door of Village Hall. 

Specifically, CSX Transportation (CSXT) officials announced that pending an anticipated federal approval, rail traffic will increase from the current four trains a day to as many as 23 trains daily over the next several years, drawing gasps from a few audience members and concerns from several trustees. 

Tom Livingston, CSXT Regional Vice President - Midwest Government Affairs, said the planned increase would be phased in over a five year period starting in mid-2013. 

CSXT officials claimed that the increase in local rail traffic will be minimally disruptive---noting that their trains typically move at a 35-40 mile-per-hour clip; that a train will take only about two and a half minutes at a typical grade crossing, and that the plan calls for the trains not to be hindered by the slowdowns or stop/starts characterized by other rail companies. 

CSXT officials do not need the formal approval of village officials and were not asking for any, but said they were there as a good neighbor essentially paying a courtesy call. 

Village officials voiced several concerns about the planned increase. One major concern of Mayor James Sexton and others was increased rail traffic hampering response times and effectiveness of first responders like firefighters, paramedics and police.

The mayor spoke about the importance of 95th Street as a major path for ambulances to Little Company of Mary Hospital, as well as Advocate Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn, the area’s only Level I trauma center. 

Even though Livingston said there was a way to call CSX to have the train stopped and cars unhooked in an emergency, Sexton said, “First responders don’t have time to make calls.” 

Livingston only had a one word reply to Sexton, when Sexton asked if the railroad company considered building an underpass, “Yes.” 

The trains would run seven days a week, except during weekday rush hours, 5 to 9 a.m. in the morning and 4 to 7:30 p.m. in the evening. Trustee Mark Marzullo indicated rush hours started earlier in Evergreen Park and invited train officials to observe traffic at 3 p.m. 

In response to Trustee Mary Keane’s question on what the train cars would be carrying, John Bradley, Chicago division chief, explained the cars would include materials such as electronics or supermarket items—essentially the same as they carry now.

 “I lived close to railroad tracks,” added Trustee James McQuillan in a concern he voiced about the length and weight of the freight cars, “and you could tell when they were loaded with something heavy. The whole house shook.” 

Livingston responded by saying CSXT wants to maintain a quiet zone and would weld the tracks together to reduce train noise. The process usually takes two weeks for each section of track welded together. The whole operation would occur over a few years. 

Rail officials pledged to stay in contact with hospitals and emergency personnel about the train schedules, which can change every few months. 

“We’re confident we can make this work,” Livingston said.  

Background 

Nearly three months ago, CSX submitted an application to the federal Surface Transportation Board “…to acquire a 22.37-mile exclusive, perpetual nonassignable railroad operating easement” that runs between Chicago’s Southwest Side (the Elsdon Yard) and Munster, Indiana, from the Grand Trunk Western Railroad Company.

According to the CSX application, “the benefits of the proposed transaction will be CSXT's more efficient operation in the Chicago Terminal, saving CSXT in excess of $2 million per year and reducing congestion on other lines within the Chicago Terminal that CSXT is using today.”

CSX’s application notes that its trains typically have an average train length of 5,400 to 6,000 feet and an average weight of 5,500 to 6,300 tons per train. “CSXT does not expect that the rerouting of trains from their current routes to the Elsdon Line will result in material changes in average train length, average tonnage, or commodity profile,” their application states. 

Mike Fangman November 15, 2012 at 01:51 AM
There would have to be an underpass put in at 95th Street. As it bisects both 95th and Kedzie, that railroad track screws up that intersection.
lori ozie November 15, 2012 at 02:16 AM
As a parent and a homeowner living along the tracks, it is my hope the village and the railroad board will, with the help of school dist. 124 and 231 launch a safety campaign for our children to inform them of the increased train traffic.
Mike Fangman November 15, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Not to be rude, but how about you teach your kids about that?
lori ozie November 15, 2012 at 05:48 AM
With all due respect Mike I have lived in my home for 16 years. The train traffic in the last 5 years has been virtually non-existent I see our children on a daily basis use the tracks as a pathway to schools, friends houses etc... as parents we can only keep our kids informed about increased train traffic and pray they use their better judgment and stay off the tracks. But I think we all know better, they will do what they want. To answer your original question Mike, I have shared this article with my children, have you? As the article states, these trains travel 35-40 miles an hour. In my experience between the weight and speed of the trains, there are times you don't hear them approaching as this area has been zoned as "quite"
Mike Fangman November 15, 2012 at 07:24 AM
I don't have any kids myself, but if I did I'd sure as heck teach them to not go near any railroad tracks.

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