Lombard to vote on railroad fencing

By Michael Wamble

Posted Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lombard leaders could vote tonight to install fencing along Union Pacific train lines to restrict people from making illegal and potentially life-threatening rail crossings.

Members of a grassroots railroad safety group are expected to crowd the village board meeting in support of the fencing plan.

The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at village hall, 255 E. Wilson Ave.

Already, two trustees have expressed support for a continuous line of 6-foot-high fencing to create a physical barrier to crossing the tracks along the borders of at least four cul-de-sacs.

The estimated cost for the fencing plan is $60,000.

Resident petitions to use either fences or shrubs as a barrier to the rails first were circulated a month after 14-year-old Kristen Bowen of Villa Park was struck and killed by a train as she tried to cross the tracks at Ahrens Avenue between Lombard and Villa Park in February.

Alicia King of Lombard circulated those petitions.

“We wanted a fence all along,” said King, who plans to attend tonight’s meeting. “But we tried to push bushes to get something in sooner.”

But at $60,000, the village discovered new fencing would cost roughly $13,000 less than shrubs over the same stretch of rails.

Ray Zukowski, Kristen’s dad, said he’s encouraged by Lombard’s leadership on the issue.

Zukowski, who plans to attend tonight’s meeting, said along with Lombard, Villa Park has a role in railroad safety since the rails border both villages.

“We need fences to be continued through Villa Park,” Zukowski said.

Fencing was a railroad safety solution first raised by Villa Park leaders, Zukowski said.

Villa Park resident John Davis, a member of the President’s Safety Committee, founded by Village President Joyce Stupegia, said that group identified the fencing company Lombard is expected to use.

But because of a lack of available funding, Villa Park must rely on grants and donations to put up railroad borders through its community, Davis said.

Through a recently created nonprofit railroad safety group, Zukowski said he plans to raise money to defer some of Villa Park’s financial needs.

Davis said he plans to attend the Lombard meeting and hopes that trustees will support the fencing plan.

“Lombard has the funding to get the fences up now,” Davis said. “Don’t wait for us. Do it.”


Reprinted with permission from the Daily Herald

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