Monday, November 05, 2012
DuPage Committed to Enhancing Railroad Safety
DuPage County is committed to improving public safety and relieving congestion on our roadways. Therefore, we have teamed up with the State of Illinois and local municipalities on a variety of projects that will improve safety for motorists and pedestrians alike at two railroad intersections in Downers Grove and West Chicago.
Recently I was joined by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully and several state and local officials to unveil a new grade separation project aimed at reducing congestion and improving public safety in Downers Grove. The construction of the underpass at Belmont Road and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad was critical to the area as the intersection was known to be one of the most dangerous in DuPage County. Nearly 20,000 vehicles and 140 trains pass through the location daily, which is also near the region’s level one trauma center – Good Samaritan Hospital. It has been estimated that motorists, including emergency vehicles such as ambulances, spent more than 20,000 hours delayed at this location on an annual basis.
The $60 million construction of the underpass was made possible by a partnership forged more than a decade ago by the Village of Downers Grove, DuPage County, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Metra, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and state legislators. Through the partnership, DuPage County took over jurisdiction of Belmont Road enabling $12 million to be secured toward the construction of the underpass.
DuPage County has been committed to railroad grade separations for several years and I’m pleased that we were able to work together with these entities to provide motorists and pedestrians with a much safer intersection.
The County recently partnered with Governor Quinn and IDOT on the construction of a grade separation project in West Chicago. A bridge will be built at Roosevelt Road and Kautz Road over the Union Pacific Railroad. The overpass bridge is essential to this intersection because of the delays and safety hazards for motorists caused by more than 50 commuter trains and 70 freight trains that use this crossing daily.
Even though DuPage County does not have jurisdiction of Roosevelt or Kautz roads, we understand the critical need for the overpass to be built. Therefore, the County has agreed to fund the planning and design phases of the $26 million project. The remainder of the funding will be paid for through the Illinois Jobs Now! Capital Program.
The project will also help boost the local economy as it is expected to create 340 construction jobs. At a time when construction jobs have decreased, it is important that we do what we can to provide people with employment opportunities.
DuPage County is committed to making railroad crossings as safe as possible, however, collaboration between multiple entities is key to making these and future projects more feasible. I look forward to working with our state and local partners on the current and future projects that will relieve congestion and increase public safety.