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updated: 11/12/2012 11:54 PM

Hoffman Estates opts against noise wall near CN tracks

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After listening to residents and weighing two options for many months, Hoffman Estates officials opted against the construction of a noise wall close to homes that are near Canadian National railroad tracks.

CN Railroad, which bought the EJ&E railroad in 2009, had agreed to either install noise walls on railroad property that borders parts of three subdivisions -- Deer Crossing, Winding Trails/Hunters Ridge and Bridlewood -- or provide funds for noise wall alternatives.

About 30 residents attended the village's Transportation and Road Improvement Committee meeting Monday to hear the decision on the issue.

Mike Hankey, the village's director of transportation and engineering, said two public meetings on the topic have already been held with residents, in December 2011 and this past September. Twice, a total of 90 surveys were also sent out to residents, and of the responses, more residents were in favor of mitigation options over a wall.

Hankey said about $1.95 million is available from CN for noise mitigation options.

"That's intended to be used for purposes that would be similar to the spirit and intent to what the noise wall would accomplish," he said, adding that a portion of the funds would also be used for administrative costs and for fencing to separate Cannon Crossings Park from the railroad property.

Because the Bridlewood subdivision is in an unincorporated area, Cook County will make the final decision on what those residents will receive, although 2.5 percent of the total Hoffman Estates mitigation funds will be put aside for Bridlewood.

Homes backing up to the CN property or within 250 feet of the tracks are considered to be in the first tier. They would be eligible to receive higher reimbursements for noise mitigation than the homes across the street, which are in the second tier.

It is estimated that the first tier homes will receive up to a maximum of about $21,000 for home improvements such as acoustic windows and doors, wall insulation or landscaping. The second tier homes, which are generally between 250 feet and 400 feet from the tracks, are estimated to receive up to around $8,500.

A few residents who lived in the second tier noted that the trains are still very noisy for them and said they would appreciate if the board chose the mitigation options over a wall, as they would be able to install new windows on the second floor of their homes where they sleep.

Other residents thanked the board and village staff members for the work they put into the issue, and also said they would prefer the mitigation options, mostly because a wall would bring down home values and detract from the beauty of the forest preserve near their homes.

The audience broke into applause when the committee unanimously agreed to select the noise mitigation options. The village board is expected to make a final decision on the options at an upcoming meeting.

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