Home / Articles / News / News / Rail consolidation design under way
Print this Article
Thursday, July 25, 2013 10:50 am

Rail consolidation design under way

Funding unsure, but construction could begin in 2014.

It’s not a sure thing yet, but Springfield’s rail consolidation plan is becoming more likely as design work and field research ramp up.

The first piece of construction could start in mid-2014 with the installation of an underpass where Carpenter Street crosses the 10th Street tracks, and the entire project could be completed by 2020 if funding comes through.

Jim Moll, project manager for Hanson Professional Services, is overseeing the consolidation designs under a contract with the City of Springfield. Moll says the project has yet to be fully funded, but engineers are already analyzing soil samples and other conditions along the 10th Street corridor. The design work is funded by an $8.65 million grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Springfield and Sangamon County officials have applied for more than $20 million in other grants, though far more funds still must be secured to cover the estimated $315 million total cost for design, land acquisition and construction.

A tentative funding plan created by Hanson shows the federal government providing the bulk of the funds at $152 million. The City of Springfield would contribute $34 million, while the Illinois Department of Transportation would chip in $65 million. Another $58 million would come from the Illinois Commerce Commission, while the involved railroads would contribute $6 million.

Those figures, along with the $315 million total cost, are in 2010 dollars and are not adjusted for inflation.

While much of the design work remains to be completed, the current plan calls for Union Pacific’s Third Street rails to follow the Norfolk Southern’s 10th Street rails through most of Springfield. Currently, the two railroads split north of the Stanford Avenue overpass. New road underpasses where Ash, Laurel, Jefferson, Madison and Carpenter streets currently cross the 10th Street tracks will allow cars to instead pass beneath the pair of train tracks.

The two tracks would split just before North Grand Avenue, and overpasses along that road will elevate cars over the relocated Union Pacific tracks, as well as the existing Norfolk Southern tracks and the Illinois & Midland Railroad tracks that run along 19th Street in north Springfield.

The additional underpasses and overpasses, known as “grade separations,” would allow most or all of Springfield to become a quiet zone with no train horns.

Moll says that even if the consolidation doesn’t ultimately happen, the individual pieces of the overall project may still be built separately.

Before construction can start, however, houses and other buildings in the path of the proposed consolidation must be purchased and moved. Hanson and other planning firms are currently working to determine what land must be acquired, and landowners may start receiving invitations for meetings in the fall to learn about the land acquisition process.

Rebeccah Bennet, senior public engagement consultant with St. Louis-based public relations firm Vector Communications, said those meetings won’t contain discussions of land values because funding hasn’t been secured for land acquisition yet. Vector’s work is paid for by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Bennet says the planning team is working with elected officials, members of the community, businesses, the involved railroads and local organizations to answer questions and generate ideas. Several “stakeholder advisory groups” were created when planners were determining which rail option was the best, Bennet said, and those groups have now been consolidated into a single group.

Any group can request a special presentation on the rail project, Bennet said, adding that the Springfield Public Schools district has already requested such a presentation.

Moll notes that two other ongoing rail projects in Springfield are not related to the consolidation. Along the Third Street corridor, the Union Pacific railroad is scheduled to begin installing new fencing, bridge upgrades and “quad gate” crossing guards that prevent cars from driving around crossing guards. That work is meant to meet requirements imposed by the Illinois Commerce Commission, according to UP spokesman Mark Davis, and construction is expected to start in 2014.

Additionally, the Illinois Department of Transportation is planning a “rail flyover” to relieve train congestion south of Stanford Avenue, where the separate Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern rail lines cross. That project is currently unfunded, though IDOT has paid for design work to begin.

Moll said the rail consolidation idea was considered as early as the 1920s, but it looks more likely to happen now than ever before, especially because all four members of Illinois’ congressional delegation representing Springfield in Washington, D.C., have voiced support for the plan.

For more information on rail consolidation, visit www.springfieldrailroad.com. For questions, call Jimmie Austin, Hanson Professional Services, at 788-2450, or email info@springfieldrailroad.com.

Contact Patrick Yeagle at pyeagle@illinoistimes.com.
Log in to use your Facebook account with
IllinoisTimes

Login With Facebook Account



Recent Activity on IllinoisTimes

Calendar

  • Mon
    18
  • Tue
    19
  • Wed
    20
  • Thu
    21
  • Fri
    22
  • Sat
    23
  • Sun
    24