Residents on Aurora’s west side report a reduced quality of life since the freight train line in the area changed operations earlier this year.
Owned and operated by the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad, the Nifa Spur Train Line runs parallel to Highland Avenue on Aurora’s west side. The train line previously operated during daytime business hours on Monday through Friday along the business and residential corridor. Due to the pandemic's slower economy, BNSF adjusted operations this year to run trains during the overnight and early morning hours.
Because of the proximity to residential neighborhoods, federal law requires horns to be sounded frequently as trains travel through the area. Consequently, local residents are frequently awakened by the horns throughout the night and before sunrise.
“Imagine being startled out of your sleep by random train horns that ring for 15 minutes straight,” said one concerned resident. “This is more than a minor irritation. It is a major frustration for all of my neighbors, their children and their pets.”
City officials have met with BNSF officials to address the concerns and to request overnight rail travel to be rerouted during daytime hours. While BNSF has been responsive, no changes can be confirmed until the economy recovers enough to allow for a reverse change in operations.
“I, too, live close to the tracks and am frustrated to hear the train horn at night,” said Ward 4 Alderman Bill Donnell. “We are working with all the powers that be to rectify this situation.”
Because railways are under federal jurisdiction, the City will continue to meet with the Office of Congressman Bill Foster to review legal remedies. Residents are advised to submit concerns to Congressman Foster’s office at 630-585-7672 or visit his website at www.foster.house.gov to send an email.