New Train Horn Law Kicks in, but Not Here

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Byline: Jon Davis Daily Herald Staff Writer

A new federal rule requires train horns to blare at crossings around the country starting tomorrow, but Chicago-area crossings will remain mostly quiet.

The region gets to keep local "quiet zones" because the Federal Railroad Administration concedes statistics show rail crossings are safer here, where horns are not blown, than elsewhere around the country where they are sounded.

And administration officials agreed to let existing quiet zones remain in place while that anomaly is studied further with newer information about individual crossings and their safety ratings.

"Our goal of course is to see the current quiet crossings are permanently exempted from the rule," said Larry Bury, an analyst with the Northwest Municipal Conference, which helped lead local opposition to the train horn rule.

Bury also credited the railroad administration for allowing suburbs to alter the traffic engineering at problematic crossings - like Mount Prospect did after a fatal July 2000 collision - as one way to keep their quiet zones.

Steve Kulm, spokesman for the railroad administration, said no timeline is set for that further analysis. …