The Springfield rail improvements project aims to enhance rail line capacity to accommodate and reduce the effects of the increasing high-speed passenger and freight train traffic on the three north-south rail corridors, including Springfield, the Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, Canadian National / Illinois & Midland.
It addresses the public safety, traffic congestion, community liveability and commercial development.
The rail improvement project is led by the City of Springfield in co-operation with Sangamon County and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and is expected to be completed by 2020.
The Springfield rail improvements project was conceptualised as part of the studies conducted by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) that proposed improvements to passenger rail service between Chicago and St Louis.
The US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a record of decision (ROD) for the Springfield rail improvements project in December 2012.
The project includes upgrading 68 at-grade rail crossings, which are conflict points for cars, trains and pedestrians, resulting in train-vehicle collisions. The project improves 24 miles (38.6km) of unfenced right-of-way throughout the project area.
It will reduce traffic delays caused by at-grade crossings from the existing from 13,800 vehicle-minutes a day to 47,500 vehicle-minutes a day and increase freight traffic through Springfield from the current five trains a day to 27 trains a day, by 2030. It will also eliminate train horns between Stanford Avenue and Sangamon Avenue.
Construction on Springfield rail improvements
Springfield rail improvements will be completed through multi-phase construction. The first stage of the project began with the construction of the Carpenter Street underpass in September 2014. It involves lowering Carpenter Street between 9th and 11th Streets, construction of new dual-track railroad bridges, and completing three blocks of drainage, and grading and sub-ballast south of Carpenter.
Tenth street barrier was eliminated to provide access to the hospitals from the east side in March 2016. Construction at Carpenter Street underpass is expected to be completed by mid-2016.
The second segment of the project will include construction of new underpasses at Ash and Laurel Streets in the 10th Street corridor. It will also include construction of railroad embankment, drainage, and track from South Grand Avenue to south of Ash Street.
The project will further include the construction of Springfield Flyover, and 3rd Street corridor.
Hanson Professional Services was awarded the contract to provide the overall engineering design services and project management including land acquisition for the Springfield rail improvements project in July 2013.
Other contractors associated with the project include Vector Communications Corporation for managing public engagement and Professional Services Industries for handling drilling. Favor Communications was contracted to provide public engagement assistance.
Crawford, Murphy & Tilly was contracted to prepare the underpass designs, while Allen Henderson & Associates was contracted to provide roadway design. Andrews Environmental Engineering was contracted to perform hazardous waste surveys, and Fever River Research was contracted to provide archaeological studies.
RDG contracted to provide the aesthetics of the 10th Street corridor design. CTC awarded the contract to provide the railroad signal design for the project. Aero-Metric provides aerial mapping services and HMMH provides vibration analysis along the Tenth Street corridor. Hinshaw is responsible to respond to legal matters concerning the project.
The rail improvement project is estimated to be completed with an overall investment of $315m, which will be financed through multiple sources.
The IDOT contributed $8.65m for planning and designing the first phase of the project. The federal government will fund $152m, while the Illinois Commerce Commission will provide $58m, IDOT Rail will provide $35m, the City of Springfield will finance $34m, and IDOT Highways will fund $30m for the construction. The Canadian National, Norfolk Southern, Illinois Midland, and Union Pacific railroads together will fund the remaining $6m.