Wednesday, March 31, 2010

State seeks input on Route 34/EJ&E crossing

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By 2014, the Illinois Department of Transportation hopes to start separating the railroad crossing at Ogden Avenue in Aurora, Ill., the Sun-Times Media Group reports. But at this early stage, officials aren't certain just how they're going to do it.

That's why IDOT held the first in a series of public meetings on the issue, looking for input and ideas from the people who live and work near the crossing.

Ogden Avenue is one of the most well-traveled crossings along the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern rail line, which was purchased last year by Canadian National Railway. At last count, in 2008, the Ogden Avenue crossing saw roughly 36,400 cars trundle over it each day. The possibility of traffic backups there led the federal Surface Transportation Board to demand the crossing be separated, and that CN would pay 67 percent of the cost. The railway company has challenged that order in court, but the case has not had a hearing.

Currently, CN sends about 16 trains per day over those tracks. However, the company has announced plans to up that figure to 40 per day by 2012. With that in mind, IDOT has set up a multi-year schedule, one of which could see the crossing completed by 2015 or 2016. According to Project Engineer Jessica Feliciano, the difference might be whether IDOT builds an overpass or an underpass.

An overpass, for which IDOT would build a new road over the railroad tracks, would take between one and two years to build. An underpass, which would see a new railroad bridge built over Ogden Avenue, could take two to three years. IDOT has not estimated costs for either option, Feliciano said.

Feliciano said IDOT plans two more public meetings, one in the summer and one in the fall, before finalizing plans.

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