Metra steps up

Opinion: Editorials

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Anytime you can pry a nickel out of the Union Pacific railroad for anything that might be considered aesthetic, neighbor-responsive, and not profit-additive, you've done a good day's work.

So our report today that the Union Pacific will ante up a few bucks to construct a chain-link fence and some security gates, maybe a bush or two, along its property in River Forest is something of a breakthrough. Credit certainly goes to the village of River Forest which has been strong in representing the concerns of neighbors, and to state Senator Kimberly Lightford, who helped broker an agreement. Of course, stories like this always rightly include fed-up neighbors who have been advocating for themselves for years.

This story, though, is not about security fencing or landscaping. It is about obnoxious and unceasing train noise, mostly generated by Union Pacific freight trains. The real hero then is Metra, the less noisy and more neighborly commuter railroad, which has found $60,000 to invest in a pilot project in River Forest. Metra wants to experiment with a sound absorbing surface, Acousticblok by name, which will be attached to the 8-foot chain-link fence along the route.

Happy neighbors said Metra believes the new surface should lower decibel levels from 78 to 50 dB which will bring the clatter and screeching more or less in line with typical street noise. We will find out soon if this works. 

Meanwhile, thanks to River Forest for pushing this rock up the embankment, to Lightford for jumping in along with Congressman Danny Davis, and most of all, kudos to residents who simply wouldn't accept that this powerful private company could get away with ignoring the life-changing racket they cause.

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