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Railroad safety center of conversation following death last month

DOWNERS GROVE — Railroad safety was a matter of discussion at Tuesday night's Downers Grove Village Council meeting following the death of a man hit by a Metra train last month in town.

Downers Grove resident and railroad safety advocate George Swimmer talked at length about the particular dangers of the BNSF line that runs through town, and especially the number of accidents that occur when pedestrians think the way is clear after one train passes, without seeing a second train.

"Train traffic is increasing almost on a daily basis," he said.

He urged the council to speak with Metra, Burlington and governmental agencies to consider possible improvements to crossings or adding another underpass in town.

Mayor Martin Tully offered to meet with Swimmer and compile a list of contacts to have conversations with.

Commissioner Becky Rheintgen suggested the possibility of a resident task force or ad hoc committee on the topic. Tully was receptive to the idea but added he would like to first determine what efforts the city and police department are already taking towards promoting railroad safety.

Commissioner Geoff Neustadt suggested increasing the fine for ignoring the crossing signal from its current amount of $250.

During the meeting, the council also heard the first readings for several regular road and infrastructure improvement projects that would be slated for this year. The council will likely vote to approve the motions and ordinances at next week's meeting.

Projects include a contract for about $1.88 million with A Lamp Concrete Contractors to repair streets and replace storm sewers and street light fixtures in the Oak Grove Unit III subdivision. Another large contract, $1.9 million, would go to Central Blacktop Company to resurface one-half block of Chase Road south of Maple Avenue.

Another motion read for the first time Tuesday is for a contract for about $1.3 million with Trine Construction Corp. to replace about 4,500 feet of water main and 69 residential and business water connections in four locations.

One of several items on the consent agenda unanimously approved Tuesday was a state program that will cover about 95 percent of the cost to replace 10 traffic signals on Butterfield Road and Ogden Avenue. The plan upgrades 10 signals in Downers Grove as part of the larger state proposal to upgrade all signals in DuPage County on state maintained roads. The work will replace the signals with LED light bulbs, add back-up power supplies and install new pedestrian “Walk/Don’t Walk” indicators.

The village's 5 percent cost of the $502,000 project will be about $13,570.

The new signals will function during power outages and improve safety for pedestrians, among other benefits, according to a report to the village council from the public works department.

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