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posted: 8/18/2010 12:01 AM

Lake Zurich looks to reduce noise near railroad

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By Kristina Hauptmann

Lake Zurich village officials will hire an engineer to develop a plan to lessen noise for residents living along about 2 miles of railroad track.

The village board agreed Monday to use a land engineer from Ciorba Group Consulting Engineers to develop the noise mitigation plan for residential areas along the Elgin Joliet & Eastern line, which forms a semicircle from Waukegan to Gary, Ind.

The consulting engineer will be paid about $126,000 from a $1.96 million fund Canadian National Railway gave Lake Zurich last November for safety and mitigation purposes, said Dave Heyden, the village's public works director and engineer.

After acquiring EJ&E in 2008, CN planned to put more freight trains on the line and struck an agreement with Lake Zurich to help fund the necessary precautions.

The consulting engineer will determine what the seven or eight affected homeowners groups need for the "quietest living at the lowest cost," Heyden said.

Mitigation can include anything from building a wall along the tracks to putting in landscaping or even soundproofing peoples' homes, he said. Any work done will be at no cost to residents.

"The people we want to focus on are right at the tracks who have to hear this thing and see this thing every day," Heyden said.

He said the consulting engineer would also have to consider the many types of homes along the tracks - a ranch-style house would not need the same barriers as a two-story house, for instance. Because the greatest amount of noise comes from train wheels, it is possible some people would prefer a short wall instead, he said.

The engineer will have to avoid disrupting the current drainage systems near the tracks, he added.

The hiring was necessary before the village could move forward with any noise-lessening plans or construction, Village President Suzanne Branding said. The engineer will determine the best solutions based on a majority-rule decision from homeowners, Heyden said.

CN had anticipated more train traffic this year, but Lake Zurich did not see as much as expected because of the economy, Heyden said. Train traffic is expected to greatly increase next year, he added.

The village hopes to have a final construction design by late winter or early spring so work can begin during next year's construction season.