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Officials mark continued progress on Springfield Rail Improvements Project

 Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman speaks to reporters in Springfield.
Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman speaks to reporters in Springfield Wednesday.

Governor JB Pritzker and other dignitaries gathered in Springfield Wednesday to mark progress on the Rail Improvements Project.

This week, work began on new $68.3 million underpasses at Madison and Jefferson Streets. By separating railroad tracks from regular vehicle traffic, the overpasses will reduce congestion and delays, improve safety, provide better access for bikes and pedestrians and cut down on emergency response times.

“When all is said and done, $475 million will have been invested in the Springfield Rail Improvements Program — with $262 million already out the door. These investments bring us another step closer to building a rejuvenated, multimodal transportation system that works for everyone,” Pritzker said.

“Congestion in Downtown Springfield can be hectic, especially when the train crosses right through town during peak traffic hours,” said State Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield). “Emergency vehicles have been delayed getting to and from the medical district, increasing the wait time when residents need medical assistance. This investment not only uplifts the city, but also takes into account the safety, livability and development of Springfield for years to come.”

Madison and Jefferson Streets will be closed between 9th and 11th Streets for an estimated 14 months, weather permitting, with a detour posted. The project consists of lowering Madison and Jefferson Streets and building new railroad bridges to create a set of double tracks for the existing Norfolk Southern Railroad, as well as the proposed Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak lines.

Madison and Jefferson Streets carry a combined 20,000 vehicles a day, serving as a critical link for police, firefighters, and two nearby hospitals. Funding for the improvements comes from $13.5 million via the Federal Railroad Administration, $30.9 million from the Illinois Commerce Commission and $23.9 million from IDOT, including $7.4 million through Rebuild Illinois.

Nearing completion are improved crossings at Capitol Avenue and Washington Street, Monroe Street’s conversion to a pedestrian-only crossing, and construction of the Norfolk Southern rail corridor.

"These investments are just one of the latest in recent moves to build a stronger Illinois. This new construction will have a real impact for the people who call Springfield home by making their daily commutes safer and faster while increasing the range of transportation options available for travel throughout Central Illinois," said State Representative Sue Scherer (D-Decatur).

A cooperative venture of IDOT, Sangamon County, and the city of Springfield, the overall Springfield Rail Improvements Project streamlines railroad operations and reduces the impact of train traffic on the surrounding community by relocating all passenger and freight traffic from the Third Street corridor to Tenth Street, as well as constructing underpasses and one overpass at key crossings on the 10th and 19th Street corridors.

Underpasses were completed at Carpenter Street in 2016, Ash Street in 2019, and Laurel Street in 2021. Double-track rail bridges at Fifth and Sixth Streets, also known as Business Loop 55, opened in 2022, replacing single-track bridges with inadequate vertical clearance for vehicle traffic. Additionally, the state-of-the-art Springfield Sangamon County Transportation Hub is being constructed, with the Sangamon Mass Transit District bus transfer station partially completed and groundbreaking for a new Amtrak station to begin this year.

"The Springfield rail consolidation project is a vital project for both freight and passenger rail in Illinois," said Tim Butler, President of the Illinois Railroad Association. "This community-led effort is a national example of working with our private railroads, all levels of government, and local citizens to create a safer and more efficient rail system. The members of the Illinois Railroad Association commend Governor Pritzker for his leadership on this project and the entire Rebuild Illinois program."

The total cost of the Springfield Rail Improvements Project is projected at $475 million through federal, state, and local contributions, with $122 million identified from the state capital construction program Rebuild Illinois.

“Rebuild Illinois is delivering transformational projects up and down the state that are making communities even more attractive places to live and work while creating economic opportunity for future generations,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “These underpasses will improve safety and mobility in the capital city, meaning easier and faster trips so you can spend more time with your families.”

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