The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has approved its annual 5-year plan for the Crossing Safety Improvement Program, which will roll out highway-rail safety projects throughout the state.
The plan outlines initiatives that will be carried out for fiscal years 2019–2023. The ICC plans to use about $194 million from the Grade Crossing Protection Fund (GCPF) to support railroads’ efforts to implement safety improvements at more than 700 crossing locations.
“Rail crossing safety is a top priority of the [ICC] to prevent the loss of life due to train-related collisions,” said Brien J. Sheahan, ICC chairman. “The Crossing Safety Improvement Program enables the ICC to identify and help provide funding for much-needed rail crossing safety projects throughout Illinois.”
The ICC’s latest plan involves helping to support 16 new bridge projects, 194 new grade crossing projects and more minor improvements at about 500 crossings.
The five-year plan also includes $3.5 million that will help the city of Chicago rebuild the bridge that carries CSX Transportation tracks over 63rd Street in Chicago, ICC said.
For fiscal year 2019, $2 million is set aside to assist the city of Elmhurst as it builds a new pedestrian grade separation of the Union Pacific Railroad’s tracks next to to York Road.
In fiscal year 2019, $12.6 million has been set aside to support Sangamon County’s efforts to build a new grade separation to carry Iron Bridge Road over the Union Pacific Railroad’s track, near Chatham.
Also outlined for fiscal year 2019, $9 million has been allotted to help Champaign County cover the bill to build a new bridge to carry Curtis Road above the Illinois Central Railroad’s track to replace the existing Curtis Road highway-rail grade crossing in Savoy.
Fiscal year 2019 also entails work to perform $505,000 in efforts to rebuild roadway approaches, install automatic flashing light signals and gates at the Laughman Road highway-rail grade crossing of the Illinois Central Railroad’s track in Marion County.
Also in fiscal year 2019, ICC has allotted $325,000 to rebuild roadway approaches, install automatic flashing lights and install gates at the East Canyon Road highway-rail grade crossing of the Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad’s track in JoDaviess County.
$2 million has been set aside to help the city of Mundelein build a pedestrian-rail grade separation of the Wisconsin Central Ltd.’s tracks near Hawley Street.
For fiscal year 2020, the ICC said it has prioritized projects based on factors such as collision history, traffic volume, engineering requirements and location.
ICC said $238,915 has been alloted for fiscal year 2023 to rebuild roadway crossing surfaces at the Maple Avenue and Myrtle Avenue highway-rail grade crossings of the Union Pacific Railroad in Elmhurst, as well. $1 million has been allocated to reconstruct roadway approaches and install gates and automatic flashing light signals at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive of the Illinois Central Railroad’s tracks in Decatur, officials said.
Fiscal year 2023 also entails plans for $370,000 to rebuild roadway approaches, install gates, modify automatic flashing light signals at the Ridge Avenue highway-rail grade crossing of the Terminal Railroad Association’s tracks in St. Clair County, ICC said.
The ICC said the need to improve public highway-rail grade crossings in rail corridors where conventional speed passenger trains operate is a major priority, as it also is in locations where grade crossing blockages cause significant delays or increased risks of collisions.
The recommendations in the report also assume local funding matches will be made available in a timely manner, the ICC said.
If such matches are not available, the Rail Safety Section Staff may recommend that the commission re-allocate assistance for those projects to a later fiscal year.
Early statistics for 2017 reveal that 86 collisions occurred at public crossings in the state, compared to 100 in 2016 for a 9.3 percent reduction in such events. Total fatalities in Illinois due to collisions at highway-rail crossings increased from 20 in 2016 to 26 in 2017, the ICC said.
The Crossing Safety Improvement Program plan is released each year.