The Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement evaluating high-speed rail service improvements along the 280-mile Chicago to St. Louis Corridor was released on Tuesday, June 26. A key question with the improvements was what route to funnel freight and passenger traffic as it traversed through Springfield, Ill. The Illinois Department of Transportation recommended rail traffic be moved to the existing Norfolk Southern corridor running along 10th Street.
The $315 million plan would relocate Union Pacific freight and Amtrak passenger (HSR) traffic from 3rd Street to 10th Street with grade separations on 10th and 19th streets. The recommended plan would require five bridges to be replaced, 10 new grade separations, construction of a new Norfolk Southern yard, additional grade-crossing improvements and 42 acres of right-of-way that needs to be acquired.
IDOT considered four options, including three variations of double tracking the existing 3rd Street corridor. However, this option was found prohibitive in that it did not provide enough spacing and clearance for UP’s design requirements. Depending on the alternative, the estimated cost for this option ranged from $113 million to $377 million. Additionally, Springfield requested a concrete barrier and fencing be erected along the corridor to prevent pedestrian and vehicle traffic from entering the right-of-way. If constructed the barriers would reduce 3rd Street to an unacceptable width and cause potential track maintenance issues.
The Draft EIS is open for public comment until August 20, 2012.