Groundbreaking held for new Springfield Transportation Hub
Springfield is a step closer to shifting rail traffic from Third Street to the Tenth Street corridor. Officials broke ground on the Hub Transportation Center, which will be a central location for Amtrak and Springfield Mass Transit District passengers.
The $86 million hub will be located north of the Sangamon County Courthouse between Ninth and Eleventh Streets. It's expected to open by 2025.
It will also allow for expanded parking and access for county facilities, an exhibition space and a community gathering point.
Mayor Jim Langfelder says by consolidating rail traffic on Tenth Street, it will alleviate congestion and ease connections on the Chicago to St. Louis line. He expects it will lead to more people visiting and living in downtown Springfield.
"The hub will transform and connect both sides of the track with potential development opportunities, positively impacting our downtown and east side," said Mayor Jim Langfelder. Many residents of the downtown area have long complained about noise from the trains, along with traffic delays.
The project includes new overpasses to prevent trains from blocking intersections.
State Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield), formerly a Springfield alderwoman, said she was worried about the impact of more rail traffic on the east side. But she supports the change, saying it will "open opportunities for safer transit, faster unencumbered routes to medical facilities and spur economic development."
"This is a big deal," said state Sen. Steve McClure (R-Springfield). "It's about time we started growing our community again and this is the exact project that will help do that."
The Tenth Street corridor has a long rail history in the city. "It was 1861 on this same railroad that Abraham Lincoln caught the train to be inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States," U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin pointed out. "But even more than the history, these trains are an integral part of our economy."
The entire rail relocation effort continues to move ahead. Officials say half of the improvement projects are complete or under construction. A combination of local, state and federal money is being used.
Sen. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur) summed up the event by paraphrasing a famous movie line: "We have built it and they have come."