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State grant application includes $52 million for yard expansion

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With the money already in place to build what likely will be two overpasses and one underpass at three major rail crossings in Galesburg, Ill., there is more good news, The Register-Mail reports. The state has applied for about $550 million of federal stimulus money, $52 million for what Illinois is calling its "Galesburg congestion relief project." 



State Rep. Don Moffitt,
R-Gilson, said the money in Galesburg is for a third main track in the BNSF’s
classification yard here, as well as sidings, or "storage tracks," that allow
freight trains that are being made up to be moved aside to allow other traffic
through.



"The third main is very
important to the long-range plan of continuing to position the Galesburg
railyard to be the best place" for BNSF to expand one of its railyards.



City Manager Dane Bragg
said this morning, "I see this as just one more opportunity to position
Galesburg for growth with the BNSF. That’s something we’ve been working on with
BNSF and Representative Moffitt’s office for about a year."



Moffitt has brought state
and federal officials here to make Galesburg’s case for rail money, ranging
from state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, chairman of the House Committee
on Railroad Industry in 2007, to Illinois Department of Transportation
Secretary Gary Hannig in May of this year and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., in
April.



George Weber, bureau
chief for railroads at the Illinois Department of Transportation, told the
Journal of Commerce online that the grant request was part of the first-round
applications by states that were due to federal authorities by midnight last
Monday. Those will lead to initial awards this fall from an $8-billion funding
pool targeted for high-speed rail projects.



Moffitt said the third
main line would run parallel to the existing lines, probably to the edge of
town.



"This would help reduce
congestion, especially when freight trains are coming in and passenger trains
are coming in," Moffitt said. "It gives them more capacity to pull the freight
of the side. It would improve on-time (passenger) performance."



"Looking ahead, we
anticipate more and more rail traffic, and that’s both freight and passenger
rail traffic," he said, "which means crossings like East Main Street will be
busier.

 That is one more reason the grade separations, which would probably
be an underpass on East Main Street, are important," Moffitt said, although he
cautioned, "I would not consider anything on the East Main project final. That’s
part of the reason it will be the last one. It’s more difficult to build an
underpass than an overpass, so East Main is more complex, assuming it stays an
underpass."



The West Main Street
overpass is scheduled to be built first, with work expected to begin in the
spring of 2010. Another overpass, which will carry traffic over the Seminary
Street crossing to Kellogg Street, will be built when the West Main Street
bridge is completed.



Moffitt said the
additional sidings at the railyard are important because it increases the
capacity at the yard. The overpasses and underpasses, quiet zones – which will
allow BNSF to close a number of crossings – as well as the projects at the
railyard are, Moffitt said, "all part of the total vision of enhancing the
Galesburg railyard, which means more jobs."



Moffitt said anything
that improves the railyard also improves Galesburg’s capacity to attract
distribution firms, because of the number of trains that can carry goods in and
out of the city.



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