This is part of the renovation plans for the Lincoln Depot.
Tuesday evening Mayor Keith Snyder told aldermen at the committee of
the whole of the Lincoln City Council that the city had officially
closed on the Lincoln Depot property. He said he was expecting to
have the keys to the depot building this week.
With this phase of the purchase and renovation complete, the next
step will be to work to remove the added structures; namely the rail
cars and cabooses that are attached to the original building.
In addition, he said the city now needs to consider what should be
done about the Pekin Street crossing in relationship to the new
landscape at the depot.
On Monday, an architect retained by the Illinois Department of
Transportation will be in Lincoln to do a walk-through of the
building to get an idea of what will need to be done to restore the
depot to its original 1910 footprint.
In regard to the rail cars that are attached to the property, Snyder
reminded the group that the Monticello Train Museum is interested in
looking at one of the Pullman cars on the east side of the building.
He said that Alderman Kathy Horn had suggested the Whistle Stop
Library in Emden might be interested in a caboose. He has contacted
LaDonna Gass, who manages the Whistle Stop, and she is interested,
but he will also need to talk with town officials about the proposal
and he plans to do that in the near future. He was hopeful that
would work out.
Snyder told aldermen that the next big decision the city has, is
what to do about the Pekin Street crossing. He said IDOT has
provided the city with two streetscape options. One includes keeping
the Pekin Street crossing and the other does not.
Snyder said when the high speed rail committee was
formed for the city of Lincoln two to three years ago, he was one
who commented that he was open to suggestions as long as the Pekin
Street crossing remained open. He said for himself personally, Pekin
Street is the best route from his home to city hall, and he uses
that crossing at least a couple of times a day.
However, traffic studies have shown he is in the minority. Of all
the crossings going into the downtown area, Pekin Street is the one
least traveled. In a document with talking points in favor of
closing Pekin, the traffic study results showed the following number
of crossings per day:
Decatur Street - 2,050 vehicles per day
Clinton Street - 3,550 vehicles per day
Pulaski Street - 2,100 vehicles per day
Broadway - 6,200 vehicles per day
Pekin - 1,500 vehicles per day
Tremont - 1,700 vehicles per day
Keokuk - 12,300 vehicles per day
Snyder said if Pekin stays open, when trains stop in Lincoln, it is
nearly a certainty that both Pekin and Broadway will be blocked
while the train loads and unloads passengers. However, if Pekin is
closed, a 500 feet long platform will be constructed from Broadway
to the north, and trains will be able to load and unload passengers
without blocking Broadway, so traffic will not be disrupted there.
If Pekin is closed, the plans provided by IDOT include adding
parking space as well as recreating the green space around the
depot. He said Amtrak says that 443,500 people pass through Lincoln
each year on the train. He said the added landscaping design would
greatly enhance the overall impression those on the train have of
In addition, the city would benefit financially from allowing the
closure of the crossing. Snyder explained when communities support
closing a crossing, the State of Illinois provides “financial
incentives” because they will no longer have to maintain the
crossing gates at that location.
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Snyder said he’d been advised the city would be offered
“upwards of $400,000” by Union Pacific if they support closing
Pekin Street. In addition, the Illinois Commerce Commission
automatically pays $75,000 for each closed crossing. Snyder said
he expected the city would end up receiving over $500,000 if
they close Pekin Street.
In his talking points he listed a number of things that could be
done with that money:
Closure mitigation – (neighboring property owners may request
assistance in adapting to the crossing closure) Snyder added to
this saying he had already spoken personally to one property
owner and will be talking with another in the near future.
Tourist attraction investments – (contribute the remaining
balance for the Lincoln speech statue and commission two other
statues – one for the depot grounds and one for Postville
Courthouse) he noted the Lincoln Statue Committee was $19,000
from reaching their goal for the new statue on the Logan County
Courthouse lawn. He said the city could fill that gap from this
money. In addition, he said right now the depot has the
watermelon, but he thought it would be nice to have a Lincoln
Statue as part of the new landscape. He also noted it would be
nice to have another Lincoln at Postville Courthouse. The city
could fund both of those with these dollars.
Downtown decorative lighting – (acquire and install all the
decorative lighting for the Pulaski Street and theater
streetscape blocks) at the moment, the city does not have the
money to fully complete the downtown revitalization projects
that will begin in the near future. To keep the work within
budget, the new decorative lighting for Pulaski Street has been
eliminated from the plan. Snyder said with this extra cash in
city coffers, that lighting could be installed.
Also, the city will have to provide some local cash for the
Depot restoration. While IDOT is going to foot the lion’s share
of the bill, they are asking for a small percentage of local
cash. Snyder said the incentive dollars could be used to provide
the local match.
Snyder asked the council to approve holding a public hearing on
all this next Monday evening at 6 p.m. He said the architect
from IDOT would be available to make a presentation regarding
the two plans, and the public would be encouraged to attend and
offer their input on the matter.
Snyder said he wanted to put the item on the agenda for voting
Monday night. However, he added, the council would not actually
vote at that time. He recommended the council adjourn Monday
night, and call a special voting session for 7 p.m. on Tuesday,
June 24. This would allow the public and the council time to
digest the information they were given, and allow the council
members time to hear from their constituents on the topic. The
aldermen agreed with this.
Finally, Snyder said what the city decides will not be the final
word on the subject. If the city votes to close, the request
will then go back to a federal agency and will be subject to
examination for compliance with the National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA will then host more public hearings, and
will do assessments of the impact of the closing on the
community as well as the environment. In the end that process
will determine whether or not IDOT and the city can move forward
with the closure.
[By NILA SMITH]