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Key EJ&E bridge project lands stimulus dollars, Sen. Durbin says


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently awarded $49.4 million in stimulus funding for the reconstruction of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co.’s (EJ&E) bridge on the Illinois River near Morris, Ill., according to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Built in 1895, the bridge poses a “serious obstruction” to the inland river navigation system because the structure’s lift span allows only 120 feet of clearance for barge traffic, Durbin said in a prepared statement. The structure is considered the “most hit bridge in America” since no other bridge in the nation is hit as often and with such predictability by water traffic, he said.

On March 12, Durbin sent a letter to the U.S. Coast Guard commander requesting that the EJ&E Bridge reconstruction project be considered for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. In addition, the senator so far has helped secure $16 million for the project through the Senate appropriations process.

“The EJ&E Bridge is currently the biggest safety concern for ship traffic on the nearly 300-mile long Illinois River,” said Durbin. “Ensuring the safe transit of goods up and down this critical national waterway is vital to the economy of Illinois, the Midwest and beyond.”

The project has been identified as a national intermodal priority, he said. In 1995, the Coast Guard declared the bridge “unreasonably obstructive” and issued an order to alter the structure. Since then, engineering and design work has been completed, and construction now is ready to begin, said Durbin.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/20/2009