Well, my experience so far has been positive with respect to contacting professors. I sent out an email to one expressing interest in his field, and heard back within a few days. What's more, since the school is local, he invited me to come visit, tour the facilities, and meet some of the students.
It most likely couldn't hurt to write or call and express your interest in their program. And, more than likely it will help you out. At least then you'll be more than a file number when it comes time to look at applications.