Construction begins on US$68 million Springfield rail underpass in Illinois

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The US$68.3 million project to build the Springfield rail underpass in Illinois was officially kicked off in the second week of April 2023. The Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Transportation, and other federal, state, and local officials attended the ceremony.

The project plans for extending the existing 10th Street rail line through the center of the city by six miles. This will be done with two sets of tracks. The intention is to replace the two existing rail corridors with one that will carry all freight and passenger rail traffic. This includes Amtrak, CN, Norfolk Southern Railway, and Union Pacific Railroad. The downtown area of Springfield is traversed by the NS and Amtrak routes.

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State officials said that Madison and Jefferson streets between Ninth and 11th streets will be blocked for 14 months. However, they will be reopened when the renovation work is done. The two routes see 20,000 vehicles daily in total. Further, they are a vital conduit for the local police force, fire department, and two hospitals.

The Federal Railroad Administration provided $13.5 million for the renovations and the Illinois Commerce Commission provided $30.9 million. IDOT on the other hand provided $23.9 million, including $7.4 million from the Rebuild Illinois program.

Expectations for the Springfield rail underpass project in Illinois

The US$475 million Springfield Rail Improvements Project will separate rail tracks from regular vehicle traffic to lessen traffic congestion. Additionally, it will increase transportation safety, and act as a catalyst for economic and downtown redevelopment. This includes a significant portion of the underpass at Madison and Jefferson Streets.

According to a press release from the Illinois Senate Democrats, the underpass construction project calls for Madison and Jefferson streets to be lowered. Furthermore, it calls for new rail bridges to be built to form a set of double tracks for the current NS and the prospective UP and Amtrak lines.