Lombard RR fencing
receives final approval
Village, Villa Park
using same company for safety barriers
The Lombard Village
Board took the final step Nov. 2 in making railroad safety fencing along a
dangerous stretch of tracks a reality, authorizing its purchase and
installation and looking at a December or January project completion date.
voted to award a bid to West Chicago-based Peerless Fence Co. in the amount of
$73,370 to erect a 6-foot high, heavy-duty barrier that will obstruct access
for pedestrians trying to illegally cross the railroad without traveling to
designated spots. The fence will be constructed along the south side of the
Union Pacific Railroad line to block off four residential cul-de-sacs -- Chase,
Highland, Ahrens and Westmore avenues -- that dead-end on property abutting the
Everything we'd hoped for," said Ray Zukowski, a vocal railroad safety
advocate who has worked with officials in Lombard and Villa Park to address
problem locations. "The sooner they get it up, the sooner residents will
be more at ease."
In February, his
daughter, 14-year-old Kristen Bowen, was killed when she tried to cross the
tracks near Ahrens Avenue. Ever since, Zukowski has made it his life's work to
make sure other families aren't faced with the same tragedy.
He said seeing the
fencing project at the Lombard-Villa Park boundary come to fruition was
particularly satisfying since its the most personal item to check off of his
ever-growing to-do list.
According to Zukowski,
there was some discussion of funding concerns at the meeting. Although Public
Works Director Wes Anderson said the fencing will be installed with or without
outside revenue sources, some trustees wanted to ensure that village officials
were following every lead for potential grant money where the project may meet
Officials in neighboring
Villa Park recently found out the village will receive about $70,000 out of a
Union Pacific capital fund for safety enhancements on the north side of the
tracks. Lombard officials similarly requested financial assistance in September
but from a different money pot and haven't yet received approval in writing,
"I'm told they
won't say 'no,' though," he added.
The project in Lombard
won't be delayed pending notification, but village officials hope they will be
reimbursed so they won't have to dip into the village's general fund.
James Barnes, Union
Pacific spokesman, said he is unaware of any talks with Lombard officials but
that the fencing would fall within the scope of safety funds meant to prevent
trespassing. Metra spokesman Tom Miller did not return phone calls.
Aside from the 1,500
feet of fencing on the south side of the line, an additional 250 feet will be
erected on the north side of the tracks from Westwood Avenue to the home
directly to the west on Prairie Avenue.
According to Zukowski,
Peerless has a contract with Villa Park as well, so joint efforts between the
two villages will be easier to coordinate and the aesthetics will be seamless.
Jessica Young's e-mail