Bring railroad exec here to talk

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Oak Park and River Forest trustees have serious concerns, although different, regarding Union Pacific (UP) railroad operations affecting both villages' residents.

On June 4, in my 3-minute public comments before OP trustees, I outlined 13 years of 45 Illinois crash reports involving 7 of 14 of UP's overpasses in OP. Ridgeland had 27 truck hits with Oak Park Avenue posting 12. Viaduct heights vary from 11 feet 7 inches to Harlem's 14 feet, which recently changed from 14 feet 10 inches.

On June 6, a Wednesday Journal headline read, "RF threatens railroad to clean up its act," which involved local laws governing garbage and debris maintenance, noise and property upkeep. Failure to comply could result in legal action. RF could hold the railroad liable for track cleanup.

RF President Cathy Adduci commented, "It's been years and we still have walls crumbling. It's like we're in some other country; it's crazy."

According to the WJ article, "Railroad officials have agreed to sit down with RF residents." 

Why not invite UP's CEO to address both communities' questions? Also, ask Forest Park neighbors to join us.

We need prevention measures. What can be done? Any suggestions? Have all of these truck collisions compromised the viaducts? Are the crumbling walls that hold up the viaducts safe?

Other WJ pieces re Union Pacific:

Toxic tanker cars pose a threat to OP and RF: May 7, 2014

We need answers ... and citizen response: Oct. 1, 2014

A troubling mystery: March 4, 2015 

Barbara Mullarkey

Oak Park Environmental Network (OPEN) 

Reader Comments

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Brian Slowiak  

Posted: July 5th, 2018 8:11 PM

@ BK: Thanks, however I was just speaking trains in general. CONRAIL was formed by the government and we buffs noted the logo, circles spinning off to a line and commented it was the government going round and round in circles spinning off, and bingo AMTRAC was born, a line without any tracks, hence the C, tracs like military tank tracs, go round and round, not in a line. It is just conversation by buffs.I am an Atchinkson,Topeka and Santa Fe guy because of the colors, war bonnet red, Aztec gold and Inca silver. And Chico was great. There is a line in the Western Desert with all silver locomotives and I think red highlights. Picture that burning through the day time desert sun at sixty miles per hour. The BNSF is so ugly the colors should be plaid.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: July 4th, 2018 5:22 AM

Welcome back to tangent hell. Someone wrote, "The railroads are quasi-governmental organizations and make their own rules." I replied they don't. And I should note that "quasi" doesn't mean "sort of," it means "seemingly; apparently but not really" and "being partly or almost." But in any event railroads DO NOT make their own rules.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: July 4th, 2018 12:31 AM

Brian and Bill, your discussion related to quasipublic entities and AMTRAK in particular had me search some legal data bases. Actually Brian and Bill, this issue - quasigovernmental or quasiprivate entities - is much more complicated than it first appears. Yeah, Bill, you are correct, AMTRAK is a governmental entity. But it took the SCOTUS in 2015 to "officially" recognize that fact. And obviously one does not make all the way to the SCOTUS for trivial and obvious clarification of terms. There had to be a substantive constitutional issues involved (the lower courts ruled that AMTRAK was in fact more akin to a private entity or at least had many of the hallmarks of a private entity). Interestingly the SCOTUS left an opening in their 2015 decision since AMTRAK (of which I was not aware) competes as a private entity when it comes to freight. This has led to various lawsuits from their freight competitors (related to unfair market advantage) so much so that the issue is now back in federal court (although not back in front of the SCOTUS).

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: July 4th, 2018 12:01 AM

Sorry, I am a C guy bcause the white logo on blue backround had a c swirl to it. So I guess if it is run by the government it might be quasi-governmental.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: July 3rd, 2018 7:15 PM

It's "AMTRAK," Brian. And it's run BY the U.S. government and does not make it's own rules.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: July 3rd, 2018 7:05 PM

Maybe not all the railroads, but AMTRAC has government ties and AMTRAC doesn't run up there. Railroads being relieved of passenger service benefited directly and indirectly from government assistance.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: July 3rd, 2018 3:15 PM

The railroads are NOT "quasi-governmental" organizations. They are businesses that government has granted various operational rights to, including right of way, due to their unique functions. Some would say they abuse those rights.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: July 3rd, 2018 2:25 PM

The railroads are quasi-governmental organizations and make their own rules. They can be fined, ticketed, etc, but those amount to peanuts and are not enough to change any behavior. Mr. Hanline is spot on with his assessment.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: July 3rd, 2018 9:20 AM

Just a pipe dream, but as a resident who lives directly across the street from these tracks, I would love to see freight traffic halted altogether. Freight trains are loud and pollutive, and Union Pacific treats Oak Park as its own private rail yard, parking and idling trains in residential neighborhoods for hours, and sometimes even days, at a time. Keep the L and Metra rails, turn the rest into something similar to the 606 Trail.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: July 2nd, 2018 5:05 PM

The viaduct at Harlem Ave and the Green Line/Metra tracks was designed and constructed more than 100 years ago, back when Harlem Avenue was barely more than a glorified cow path. It's way too low for modern truck traffic and it's support system (support pillars) is very outdated and takes up excessive space.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: July 2nd, 2018 11:28 AM

What do trucks hitting the viaducts in Oak Park have to do with noise,litter issues in River Forest? What could a railroad executive offer that would stop trucks from hitting the roof of a viaduct?

Nick A Binotti  

Posted: June 26th, 2018 9:13 PM

Why not ask Don Harmon to assist with the Union Pacific issues? He must be keeping communication lines open with UP as they've contributed $6,500 to his campaign in just the past 6 months. Surely that buys us something...or them something.

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