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Article updated: 12/30/2012 4:27 PM

Lake Zurich to use $522,000 from CN on noise wall

By Bob Susnjara

Lake Zurich will construct a noise wall to protect some homeowners, using more than $500,000 received from Canadian National Railway through a legal settlement.

CN provided nearly $2 million to Lake Zurich for safety upgrades, noise reduction and other measures deemed necessary because of an expected increase in freight trains the company runs through the village. The federal Surface Transportation Board ordered CN to reduce train noise in certain areas.

Village trustees formally entered into the agreement in 2010, which stemmed from concerns over CN's controversial purchase of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway. The line runs in a semicircle from Waukegan to Gary, Ind.

As part of the process involved with spending CN's cash, Lake Zurich officials received feedback from residents in affected neighborhoods on what they preferred in the way of noise protection.

Residents on Carolyn Court, just north of where East Main Street meets Route 22, expressed a preference for the noise wall. By a 5-0 vote, village trustees at a recent meeting agreed to pay $522,263 to the lowest responsible bidder, Woodstock-based Alliance Contractors Inc., for the barrier construction.

Although Alliance doesn't have specific noise wall construction experience, it's been deemed qualified to do the job in Lake Zurich, according to Mark Johnson, project manager with village engineering consultant Ciorba Group of Chicago. Alliance's specialties include work on retaining walls, sidewalks, bridges and box culverts.

Some concern about the tab was raised by Trustee Tom Poynton, who said he didn't want too much of CN's $1.9 million spent in one place.

"Are we going to have enough money left in this (CN) fund to do all the things that we told the people that we were going to do as far as noise mitigation?" Poynton said.

Plans call for other CN money to go toward safety mitigation work near schools, downtown Lake Zurich and other areas adjacent to the company's tracks.

David Heyden, Lake Zurich's public works director and village engineer, said in a memo that the 2010 agreement with CN required the entire $1.9 million be allocated to projects within two years. The village has formally requested a deadline extension to July based on the anticipated noise wall construction schedule, Heyden said.

Last month, officials in neighboring Hawthorn Woods agreed to use most of cash remaining from what it had received from the settlement to ensure officials have electrical power to do their jobs in the event of a crisis.

An amount not to exceed $43,000 will be used to buy and install generators at the village hall and adjoining police department/emergency operations center, a central location where village decision makers meet in the event of a disaster that needs a coordinated response.

Hawthorn Woods received a $760,000 settlement in September 2009 when it dropped out of litigation involving the CN's acquisition of the EJ&E.

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