Illinois Officials Celebrate Progress on Springfield Rail Improvements Project

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
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Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and other officials gathered in Springfield to commemorate the Rail Improvements Project's progress on April 5.

Following an investment of $68.3 million, work has begun on new underpasses at Madison and Jefferson Streets, as reported by NPR. The overpasses will reduce congestion and delays and reduce emergency response times by separating railroad tracks from regular vehicle traffic.

“When all is said and done, $475 million will have been invested in the Springfield Rail Improvements Program — with $262 million already out the door,” Pritzker said. “These investments bring us another step closer to building a rejuvenated, multimodal transportation system that works for everyone.”

State Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield) said congestion in Downtown Springfield can be hectic, especially when the train crosses through town during peak traffic hours.

“Emergency vehicles have been delayed getting to and from the medical district, increasing the wait time when residents need medical assistance,” Turner said. “This investment not only uplifts the city, but also takes into account the safety, livability and development of Springfield for years to come.”

Weather permitting, Madison and Jefferson Streets will be closed between 9th and 11th Streets for an estimated 14 months, with a detour planned. The project entails lowering Madison and Jefferson Streets and constructing new railroad bridges to create a set of double tracks for the existing Norfolk Southern Railroad, as well as the proposed Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak lines.

Madison and Jefferson Streets carry a combined 20,000 vehicles per day, connecting police, firefighters, and two nearby hospitals. The Federal Railroad Administration will contribute $13.5 million, the Illinois Commerce Commission will contribute $30.9 million, and IDOT will contribute $23.9 million, including $7.4 million from Rebuild Illinois.

Improved crossings at Capitol Avenue and Washington Street are nearing completion, as is the conversion of Monroe Street to a pedestrian-only crossing and the construction of the Norfolk Southern rail corridor.

“These investments are just one of the latest in recent moves to build a stronger Illinois,” said State Representative Sue Scherer (D-Decatur). “This new construction will have a real impact for the people who call Springfield home by making their daily commutes safer and faster while increasing the range of transportation options available for travel throughout Central Illinois.”

The Springfield Rail Improvements Project, a collaboration of IDOT, Sangamon County, and the city of Springfield, aims to simplify railroad operations and reduce the impact of train traffic on the community by relocating all passenger and freight traffic from the Third Street corridor to Tenth Street, as well as building underpasses and one overpass at key crossings on the 10th and 19th Street corridors.

Underpass projects were carried out at Carpenter Street in 2016, Ash Street in 2019, and Laurel Street in 2021. Double-track rail bridges at Fifth and Sixth Streets opened in 2022, replacing single-track bridges with insufficient vertical clearance for vehicle traffic.

The Springfield Rail Improvements Project is expected to cost $475 million in total, with federal, state, and local contributions totaling $475 million, with $122 million coming from the state capital construction program Rebuild Illinois.