Barrington Village President, Karen Darch, says it’s critical that we have a strong community turnout at tonight’s public meeting about the future of the Canadian National/EJ & E train tracks at Route 14 in Barrington. On the line are federal and state funds for a grade separation to accommodate increasing train traffic at that crossing and it’s the last chance for the public to comment before a choice is made. It’s down to two options, both with U.S. Route 14 shifted to the north.
The more costly option, with a $60 million dollar price tag, is the preferred option for Barrington, according to Karen Darch. It’s a highway underpass, where traffic on Rte. 14 would flow beneath the trains above.
Karen says, “My opinion is that, from a noise perspective and a visual perspective, the highway underpass is far and away the better option. The biking and pedestrian possibilities with the underpass are much more attractive and user friendly.”
The second option, with a $45 million dollar price tag, is a highway overpass or vehicular bridge over the railroad which would stand about 30 feet above the ground.
Darch says, “The overpass alternative would have to stand more than three stories in the air with the traffic running up there so, visually, you’d be looking at a wall on either side of it and the sound will disperse through the community.”
Karen Darch says there’s also a “No Action Alternative”, where you can recommend that neither alternative be chosen. But Karen says, based on the significant increases expected in Canadian National’s number of trains and length of trains running through Barrington in the coming years, doing nothing would create huge traffic, environmental and safety problems for our community.
“Right now we’re seeing about 12 trains a day, relatively short trains, running through town. CN has said that they will be up to 20 trains a day by 2015 and they really can do more than that. They also have the ability to double track or triple track their line. They only have a single track now, but they have the right-of-way. They need no further approval to increase their traffic exponentially and their trains can be much longer than they currently are, which means they’ll take a lot longer to get through town.”
Village Manager, Jeff Lawler says we can expect major headaches, if we don’t take action.
“The modeling that we’ve seen indicates that, in the near future as train traffic picks up, cars at rush hour will literally be backed up at the CN crossing either direction east and west on Rte. 14 throughout the limits of the Village.
It takes about 20 minutes for that traffic to unqueue and move back to normal and it has an effect on every other roadway in the Village when that occurs.”
And Karen Darch says we must prepare appropriately now for more trains. “Without a grade separation, we’d have no ability to move through town and no emergency access to Good Shepherd Hospital on the other side of the tracks. It’s a huge public safety and environmental problem and, if you think you can get by with the way it is now, please don’t think that this is what the future will be.”
“So it is critical to come tonight if you are able because the powers that be, the Department of Transportation and so forth need to see that there is massive community support for an underpass option. The preference of some of the agencies would be to do the less expensive option and, if that’s not the best one for the community, we really need to be out there and supporting what’s best for us.”
The Route 14 EJ&E/Canadian National grade separation meeting is happening at Barrington High School TONIGHT, Thursday, April 25th, from 4:30 to 7:30.
They ask that we please use the Main Street driveway at Barrington High School, 616 W. Main Street, and enter the school building through Entrance #45.
The meeting is open house format, so you can stop by at any time between 4:30 and 7:30 and stay as long as you like. You will have the opportunity to provide comment before a preferred grade separation alternative is selected, so village officials say it’s imperative that all residents, businesses and commuters take the time to review the plans and comment.
If you are unable to attend tonight’s meeting, you can learn more about the underpass and overpass alternatives plus submit your comments online. The Village has a project specific website they operate with their engineering consultant at us14-cn.com.