Proposed railroad underpass at Curtis Road shows 'potential'

Proposed railroad underpass at Curtis Road shows 'potential'

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SAVOY — Newly committed state funding for construction of an underpass where the Illinois Central Railroad tracks cross Curtis Road makes up less than a quarter of the overall $40 million it will take to get the job done, according to a village official.

The Illinois Commerce Commission has approved $9 million for a Curtis Road grade-separation project that has long been desired by Savoy to improve traffic and safety at the crossing.

Village officials are still waiting to hear if $19.7 million in federal funding they applied for last year for the project will be forthcoming.

The ICC funding helps show that this is a solid project with other funding sources, said Savoy Village President Joan Dykstra. The federal Department of Transportation wants to see its funding leveraged with other sources, she said.

"That shows this municipality, this community, is really committed," she said.

A letter from Dykstra to the Department of Transportation says Savoy has committed $2.03 million of its own money toward the project and has secured other private and government funding to match the $19.7 million in federal grant funds needed.

"I'm so excited about the potential," Dykstra said. "The village of Savoy has had this in their master plan for decades."

Among the safety issues has been a growing residential population east of the tracks, where there isn't a fire station. There are also risks for apartment residents crossing the tracks on foot to get to stores on the west side, and traffic backs up at the tracks at certain times of the day, Dykstra said.

"As Savoy grows, we may end up with a (fire) substation on the east side of the tracks, but regardless, this is a life-safety issue for Savoy," she said.

Factored into the overall cost of the project is the expense of moving the railroad tracks east so they're not so close to U.S. 45, according to Dykstra.

She couldn't say when the work at the Curtis Road crossing might begin, but she did say that when the money is lined up, Savoy doesn't intend to wait to get started.

The state money approved for the project is part of a five-year package providing nearly $200 million for safety improvements at more than 700 crossings.

Statewide, there were 26 collision fatalities at highway rail crossings last year, according to the ICC.

Between 2012 and 2017, there were 12 collisions at rail crossings in Champaign County, the agency said.

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787 wrote on March 30, 2018 at 11:03 am

How fitting... a picture showing an MTD bus pounding the railroad crossing to oblivion.  That crossing is already about 4 inches lower than the surrounding pavement, and getting worse by the week.  

New materials to upgrade the crossing have been sitting off in the weeds to the north of the crossing, for about a year now.  We can't expect CN to get in *any* sort of a hurry on anything.  If it doesn't make CN money, they're not much interested.

Schmohawk wrote on March 30, 2018 at 1:03 pm