The purpose of the open house was to present plans and gather public
comments for siding and track construction planned between Broadwell
Logan County will have one place where trains can pull over as
other trains pass. This is along the Union Pacific Railroad between
Fogarty and Mount Fulcher.
Kyle Otte from IDOT explained that a 2-mile siding is there now.
Almost 6.5 more miles would be added to create over 8 miles of side
A detailed map of the side rail can be seen just below the flow
chart on the IDOT website:
The siding allows more passing opportunities for high-speed rail
trains and dual use of tracks for passenger and freight trains.
Janet Henderson from the project team said that the primary focus
with this high-speed rail project is safety. Informing the public,
providing awareness of the changes that are coming, is part of the
project team's education efforts toward safety.
The rail project includes crossing upgrades that add
four-quadrant roadway gates and additional signal communications. A
car on the tracks causes gates to go back up and sends two separate
signals to the train engineer to stop the train if need be.
Pedestrian gates would be added. Additional protective measures
would include decorative wrought-iron fencing in communities and
chain-link fencing in rural industrial areas.
In addition to community presentations, Henderson also goes to
schools and festivals. She says that kids are one of their best
means of getting people informed. Children will go home and tell
their parents what they learned and how important it is to
understand the safety measures.
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In the schools, Henderson will work with whatever time frame the
administration would like to allow for presentations. She likes to
have about 15 minutes to talk with younger children, 30 minutes with
older kids and 45 minutes with driver education students. She's
finding the kids to be very responsive and good communicators to the
parents and the rest of the family. "It's great that kids are having
an impact," she said.
The study team and IDOT will continue to solicit public comment
as part of the environmental documentation. The normal period of
comment for 14 days has been extended to 30 days. A public meeting
to complete the environmental impact presentations is set to take
place in Elkhart on Oct. 16.
People wishing to make comment before that can get a form at the
Elkhart Library or go to the website,
The team members were excited about reaching this stage of the
project, finishing the environmental impact aspect with public
presentations. One team member recalled that prep work including the
environmental studies began in 2004.
It was fortunate for Illinois that the basic design work had been
completed and the project was ready when funds became available in
2010. With those funds, actual track work began. The project has
both state and federal funding.
The 284-mile rail corridor between Chicago and St. Louis is
expected to be completed for high-speed rail use with new tracks,
crossings, safety measures, locomotives and cars by 2017.