Latest effort to silence train horns in Salem Lakes derailed

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A map of the Salem Lakes railroad crossings from the study commissioned by the village last year. (Click for larger view)

A resident’s effort to get the Salem Lakes Village Board to make millions of dollars of improvements to railroad crossings needed to create a zone where train horns would not be sounded will not leave the station.

In December, Chris Skrzynecki spoke during citizens comments urging the board to proceed with improvements to crossings needed to create a silent zone for train horns.

Skrzynecki was back again Monday, presenting more arguments in favor of the project and requesting a board vote on proceeding one way or another.

“I’m here to make this board put up or shut up,” Skrzynecki said. “You guys need to either vote it up or vote it down.”

Skrzynecki said he favors every village resident paying a share of the estimated $3.3 million cost (based on a village-commissioned study) of the needed modifications. He estimates that cost as $400 per parcel. This is in contrast to an earlier funding idea that would have accessed only people within a given proximity to the Canadian National rail line.

In his opinion, Skrzynecki said all property owners should pay because everyone will benefit. Trains, most forced to travel through the village overnight, may be leading to sleep deprivation that could be causing other problems from bullying to domestic conflict, he contended citing unspecific studies on the importance of sleep.

“Getting these train horns silenced is a community betterment,” Skrzynecki said.

Proceeding with establishing a train horn silence zone did not meet with much support from board members.

After Skrzynecki’s last presentation, village President Diann Tesar said she did not hear from anyone that favored the $400 assessment, consequently she would not be comfortable assessing anyone who did not live close to the tracks.

Trustee Bill Hopkins asked for copies of the studies Skrzynecki quoted regarding the effects of sleep deprivation.

Trustee Dan Campion pointed out  several of the crossings that would need to be upgraded as part of the project are county highways and therefore the cost should be borne by the county. “Until we have  some funding from other sources, the county or the state, I am not willing to have the village” pay for it, Campion said.

If the measure moved forward, Trustee Ted Kmiec said he would favor a referendum.

Trustee Laura Francart said she would not object to a public hearing on the issue.

The discussion ended with no action being taken.

On Tuesday, Skryznecki said he will not continue to pursue the subject with the Village Board. He called the effort dead due to lack of support. In an email to westofthei.com on the subject he said:

While I’m sure a lot of people near the tracks would pay, until they show up at the Village meetings their voices will not be heard. The 1/4 mile group is less than 25% of the voting population so they have an uphill battle before they even start. Going forward only the board can call for a hearing or referendum and if they don’t do one or the other this election cycle, it is surely dead. And no I will not bother the board further. I too have had more people say no than yes.”

Related posts

Salem discusses railroad crossing quiet zone facts and figures

Salem Town Board tells train horn quiet zone advocate “form a committee”

Silver Lake pursuing railroad quiet zone designation

15 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    As one who is in favor of silencing the trains (let’s face it, a train horn isn’t gonna save lives in today’s day in age), I would be happy to see them just use a little more common sense when blowing the horns. For instance, their is one engineer who just lays on the horn practically the entire time he is going through Silver Lake. That seems a bit unnecessary…

  2. robert j walski says:

    if your losing sleep then move the train was here before you moved in or simply pay for it yourself problem solved

  3. Jake says:

    I grew up around this area, we have lived with the HORN, yes sometimes there is and IDIOT that sounds the horn too long too many times. Like airports, that have been in an area for YEARS as this RAIL has, you KNOW that it is there! Don’t complain after you moved in on top of the tracks! I will NOT support additional TAXES to eliminate the HORN sound. IDIOTS will still try and find a way around a crossing and in doing cause injury to themselves. I’m sure the next issue will be the rumbling and rattling of the cupboards in your homes.

  4. It's Dead! Move on says:

    Both the old Silver Lake Village and Salem’s Town boards have looked at this issue before and put it on the shelf due to cost. No other reason, just cost.

    Now the new combined Village board has said the same thing, “Cost is the issue”.

    It’s as dead as a Rail Road Spike. Let it lie.

  5. robert j walski says:

    from what I hear the horn blower is doing it to piss off his x wife this has been going on for years however that was bar roomers,,but kinda funny lol

  6. Kale Dolfin says:

    It sounds like it would be far cheaper both for Mr. Skrzynecki and for the community if Skrzynecki would simply move to an area more to his liking. If you’re going to move to an area near train tracks, chances are, there’s going to be train related sounds. It’s like moving near an airport and then complaining about the sounds of the planes.

    But is it really that much of an issue to begin with? How often do these horns go off? Once, twice, maybe a few times a day? And it’s not like they last for hours at a time. First world problems.

    Bullying is not a problem brought about by sleep deprivation. Bullying is an internal behavioral problem. Nothing more. The same goes for domestic conflict. Seems like Mr. Skrzynecki is making things up here.

    Frankly, those who argue in favor of silencing the trains strike me as the very people who would sue everyone around them if they were injured due to not hearing a train. Why on Earth, would you want a barreling locomotive to be silent, except to satisfy your own petty need for creature comforts?

  7. @Kale Dolfin: As for number of trains in a day, the oft stated stat for this line in this location is often over 20 a day. I defer to someone who can show a hard stat or lives closer by. Also, I believe Chris Skrzynecki said he does not live near the tracks and would have been outside the assessment zone if that plan had been enacted.

  8. Kale Dolfin says:

    @Darren Hillock – Thanks for the clarification.

    Okay, so 20 trains a day. 24 hours in a day divided by 20 trains is approximately 1 train every 1 hour and 11 minutes. And how long does the horn last, approximate 30 seconds each time? I can handle hearing a 30 second sound every 1 hour and 11 minutes. Maybe others can’t.

    This may be more of a problem for those who are home all day long. For retirees who never leave the house, I can see why this might be an issue. But if you work 8-10 hours a day, 40 to 50 hours a week away from home, you’re not going to get the full effect.

    I guess I don’t have much sympathy here because I myself grew up two city blocks away from train tracks in Milwaukee. It’s really just not that big of a deal.
    I think overall a little less sensitivity is in order.

    If Mr. Skrzynecki doesn’t live near the tracks and is outside the assessment zone, then why is he involving himself in this to begin with?

  9. Tom says:

    Latest effort to silence train horns “derailed”. Perfect title.

  10. put it on the shelf? says:

    The problem that I see in this is the boards, both of them, never finished the job they started. They paid for studies, consumed time of employees as well as consultants and have left it an open issue to the citizens by not having it on the agenda for action by the full board. Now that Tesar is President and having both studies available, it behooves her to put the issue on the agenda and to get the official vote. Chris was trying to nudge her to do her job in a nice way. Proceed, consider it a dead issue or put it to referendum. ACT! It isnt going to come to an end until this official action is done. And during some other election cycle someone no doubt will make this a platform item because it is still an open issue and we as citizens will again be jerked around with more studies, more concern, more uncertainty.
    It would be nice if the elected officials would actually act on any issue they start investigation upon. But the person responsible for the agenda seems to fail at this stage. Then comes along a very long term elector – 40 years is it Chris? – Chris Skrzynecki just asking the board to put it to official rest with the answer. Simple. I dont see why Diann cant see that there is a need for an official vote on this by the board. I looked at the map. I dont see the 2 or three farm crossings where the engineer must sound the horn. These too would need gates for auto and pedestrian. County has 5 crossings and dont believe their budget this year offered any indication that they were planning on making any payments The issue of communication at the sidings has not been addressed but there are times when the horn is sounded sometimes for an hour to communicate to an oncoming train that they are clear to proceed. I dont know the reason they cant communicate with a telephone but the fact is that this does happen and those in lower Silver Lake and Camp Lake know this happens. I confirm there are some engineers who start with the horn as Wheatland station and all the way to the Antioch Line. We know it happens. Some of the long horns are an issue of close crossings, moving train and the federal length of the horn sounding. A faster train will have a horn that sounds constant. The one private crossing that is shown is a big problem too to the entire issue. Do you know why?

    Chris by the way, in case you dont remember, put an end to the roundabout at the ‘new’ Hwy 83 entrance to the high school which would have been a impediment to the two communities of Salem and Paddock. We dont need divisional barriers. Thanks Chris!

    The big problem? Hummmmm

    Put it on the agenda Mrs President and make the closure official. Please just do your job. Chris Skrzynecki , you’d win for any position you decided to run for. Kale Doflin, time for you to listen and learn.

    There are more than 20 trains a day. The gravel trains and some coal trains are not in the mix though they still must horn at the crossings. And the increase in usage was not adjusted when they activated the EJ&J around Chicago and this line.

    The big problem? Oh, that private crossing is owned by the Canadian National Railroad and there is no way that they are going to pay for any crossing on their own rail line! Especially CN!

  11. My response to Kale Dolfin says:

    According to the study commissioned by the Town of Salem (March 2016) there are 29 freight trains that run these sets of tracks each 24 hour period. And because of the commuter rail service that runs from Antioch to Chicago (11 train runs each direction starting at 5am thru 10 pm) most of the freights thru our area run over night while most residents are sleeping. That puts more than 2 per hour over night and possibly even more.

    As for my involvement. I did live near the tracks when I first moved to Trevor in 1987. My front door was about 500 feet from the tracks. While not a big deal to me and my wife when we decided to purchase our home that close to the rail road, we did hear (and were woken up) when a train came thru overnight and could tell a heavy fully loaded train from an empty one by how much the house shook. So I have empathy now for the people who live close and have been there all these years as the frequency of the trains has increased due to no fault of their own. I don’t have the numbers but it’s been said by someone who has lived near the tracks a long time that back then there were only about 23 trains per week. Now there are more than that in a day.

    Why now?
    I brought this before the board now because I wanted the new combined Salem and Silver Lake Trustees to get one more shot at voting this up or down together. I’m sure you can admit that Silver lake (which stands to benefit the most) is well represented on this new board, at least till the next election.

    I referenced the WestoftheI news reports (which you can see above) at the meeting that said the Village of Silver Lake looked at silencing the train horns back in 2011. Additionally the old Town of Salem commissioned the study referenced here in 2016. It’s anybody’s guess how many other times this was brought up before that. So it’s not just me. I just wanted to get this off of their combined plates once and for all since if you listen to them the boards only objection is the cost. I was just offering options to pay for this that have not been presented in the past in open meetings.

    I have since offered another cost/payment option to the board and hope that they continue to look at how to get this done.

    30 year Salem resident
    (10 years near the tracks)
    Chris Skrzynecki

  12. Concerned Citizen says:

    It’s very funny that Chris S. wants the entire village to pay for his problem of the train horn, yet he was the same person who had an issue with mosquito spraying in Silver Lake following the flood. Stating “Why should the whole village have to pay for something that will only benefit the people by the river or in the flood plain.”

    Can’t take out of both sides of your mouth….

  13. Yes, you got me. says:

    Yes I did speak in opposition of mosquito spraying. Because it doesn’t last more than 3-4 weeks per spray and it is hard to pinpoint its application and judge its effectiveness due to wind speed and direction.

    I was at the Town meeting when a company presented the way it works and I said then and had others agreed that if ‘they’ want it they should pay for it. ‘They’ meaning the old Silver Lake neighborhoods that had it.
    (Salem stopped it years ago for reasons other than just cost)

    Paying $50,000. for something that might work for a few days or weeks for a few hundred people, if they’re outside during those selected times seemed like money blown away in the wind. (Silver Lake used to buy it $4,000 at a time)

    But then that was just my opinion. Doubt that I was the reason it failed.

    As for the train horns, I am accepting defeat in getting this passed by this board as I presented it on Monday.

    My goal from the beginning was for the board to accept the silencing idea as something positive to work toward getting done. After all, they spent I don’t know how many thousands of dollars on a study finding out what it would cost. (they must have thought it was a good idea then, no?)

    They could have found out the cost by just looking at the internet and calling any one of a dozen other communities in Wisconsin that have it and asked what they paid per crossing.
    Then they could have voted that up or down just on cost.

    I have since suggested to the board another option that is having just the 1/4 mile residents voting by referendum to tax themselves for this.
    1622 votes. Majority wins.

    At the roughly $2,100. cost per 1/4 mile resident, if they voted just themselves to want this then the Village could set up a separate taxing district just for them. At $250 a year for 10 years or $125 a year for 20 years they alone can pay for it. Additionally they would be assessed the yearly inspection and maintenance fees forever.

    So as I said, I doubt that I alone can sway this board to do anything, but I can do what they are not doing, offer options to the community for discussion.

    Chris Skrzynecki

    BTW. I have a problem with the projected cost and think it could get done for less to Salem. But no sense spending any time or energy on that until its wanted.

  14. Trains vs Mosqitos? says:

    Mosquito spraying last a few weeks at most, 3-4 times during the summer.

    Train horns are every day, every hour, forever.

    Hardly a comparison.

  15. hello? says:

    Are you people for keeping the train horn familiar with something called hearing loss?Insurance does not cover hearing aids. Then they have a city park 100 feet away from the tracks horns blaring 110 decibels ,with hearing damage occuring at 85 decibels better get your kids hearing checked! Has Salem Lakes ever once applied for government grants to help with the cost as many other communities have?Probably not.Why,because quality of life issues mean nothing here,ordinances never enforced{fired the last person who tried] poor city maintenance,seen street sweeper once in 2 years living here, garbage carts left on the street all week, dogs crapping everybody lawn but there own owners lawn .Oh i forgot as long as theres fish and beer, everything is ok in Salem Lakes.

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