Urbana intersection to close for work on rail crossing

URBANA — Businesses at the intersection of Lincoln and University avenues in Urbana want patrons to know they'll be open next week even if getting to them might be a bit challenging.

Starting at 6 a.m. Monday, the Illinois Department of Transportation will close the intersection so the Norfolk Southern Railroad can replace the crossing that runs diagonally through it from the northwest to the southeast.

The work is expected to take at least a week and maybe 10 days.

Cross-town drivers who regularly use University are encouraged to take alternate east-west routes. And in case they forget, they should have plenty of advance notice to take a different route.

IDOT has already put up signs in several locations warning of the upcoming work. There are signs on Interstate 74 detouring traffic to Prospect and Cunningham avenues.

Traffic can still exit the highway at Lincoln and come south but will have to turn east or west north of University.

Signs warning of the work are also planned for as far away as Springfield and Prospect avenues in Champaign, along Bloomington Road west of Prospect, and in several spots along Lincoln both south and north of University Avenue.

Police, fire and ambulance services have also been alerted to the traffic disruption, which happens to be smack dab between the community's two major hospitals.

Routes to get to the emergency rooms of both Provena Covenant Medical Center and Carle Foundation Hospital will also be well-marked.

There will be no parking on either side of West Main Street in Urbana between Goodwin and Coler avenues to accommodate the expected increase in east-west traffic while the work is going on.

Helen Philpott, owner of the English Hedgerow, 406 N. Lincoln Ave., which sits on the southeast corner of the intersection, said she'll have her back door well marked and she has parking on the south side of her building.

Patrons should be able to get to her business from the south or the east through Mulberry Alley off Busey Avenue near St. Patrick's Church.

"We have weddings and things going on so I plan on being open," Philpott said.

Likewise, a manager at Einstein Bros Bagels, 901 W. University Ave., on the southwest corner of the intersection, said the business will maintain its regular hours of 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

"We are kind of bracing for it and not sure how it will affect business. We may do something for our regulars coming in and urge them to stay tuned for special offers," said shift manager Hope Houdek.

The Carle Auxiliary Resale Boutique, 808 W. University Ave., U, will also be open its usual hours, said resale shop chairwoman Marty Edwards.

The store is closed Monday, Wednesday and Friday but is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Although motorists are advised to avoid the intersection totally, if you are headed west on University, you can turn north on Lincoln, and if you are headed east on University, you can turn south on Lincoln. There is no ability to turn off Lincoln on to University, according to IDOT spokesman Josh Kauffman.

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