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House spending bill jeopardizes Barrington's grade separation funding, Durbin says


A $2.8 million federal grant the city of Barrington, Ill., obtained last year to help fund the planning, design and engineering of a grade separation at a busy U.S. Route 14/Eastern Joliet & Elgin Railway (EJ&E) crossing is in jeopardy because the House-passed spending bill would eliminate a big chunk of transportation funding, according to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Funding through the federal Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery II (TIGER II) program would be eliminated in the House’s spending bill for fiscal-year 2011, he said. The measure cuts more than $6.8 billion in transportation spending to states and communities, including Barrington’s TIGER II grant. The Senate now is considering the spending measure.

One of the busiest intersections along the EJ&E — which CN acquired in 2009 — the Route 14 crossing averages about 40,000 commuters daily, according to the city. Barrington officials believe CN’s plans for the EJ&E will increase the number and length of trains moving through the city, raising safety concerns because the crossing isn’t grade separated from the railroad.

“Just five months ago, the city of Barrington was awarded $2.8 million through the TIGER II program to begin addressing the vital safety and quality-of-life concerns that had arisen in the community since the CN merger,” said Durbin in a prepared statement. “This funding was a commitment to the residents of this community that their safety is the primary focus. But, if the House has its way, Congress would go back on that commitment.”

Meanwhile, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) announced it’s accepting grant proposals to help communities, townships and counties affected by CN’s EJ&E acquisition fund grade crossing projects designed to mitigate the impact of increased rail traffic on area residents. Applications are due April 1.
Eligible projects include right-of-way fencing, noise abatement walls or berms, and landscaping. ICC rail safety staff will serve as project managers and work with Federal Railroad Administration and local officials.

The ICC expects to select winning proposals in early May. Grants will be awarded between June 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2012.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/3/2011