In the chamber gallery there were several in attendance to watch
the proceedings. Of the group a small handful chose to address the
council, all in opposition of closing Pekin Street.
The hearing began with Mayor Keith Snyder introducing Carrie Desmond
and Bruce Nelson of Parsons Brinkerhoff. Their firm has been
retained by the Illinois Department of Transportation to work
specifically with train station development for high speed rail.
Nelson did most of the speaking and began by offering a brief
description of each of the two proposals the city is being asked to
consider. He noted at the start that both concept plans are
acceptable to IDOT, and will meet the needs of high-speed rail.
He noted the new design with leaving Pekin Street open would involve
taking away the current waiting station and turning the north end of
the original depot building into the actual Amtrak station. The
design would include creating a park-like green space around the
depot, removing the structures and rail cars that have been added
since the depot was originally built, creating an off street
passenger drop-off point and adding ADA parking near the station.
He also noted the development of 24 hour parking spaces on the west
side of the track.
Turning to the plan that includes closing Pekin Street, he noted
that the depot structure and the green space around the building
would not change a great deal. He pointed out a change in the size
and shape of the drop-off point in front of the station and said
there would be more parking added on the west side.
The most important part of the two plans that the council is being
asked to consider revolves around the safety and convenience for
motorists when trains are stopped at the station for on and off
loading of passengers. Nelson said the plan to leave Pekin Street
open would result in a 255 feet long loading platform adjacent to
the depot building. With that platform, he said trains stopping at
the station, which are expected to be 500 to 600 feet long, would
undoubtedly block both Pekin and Broadway during their stops.
If Pekin Street is closed, the platform will be built 500 feet long,
extending to the north beyond the depot. With the increased loading
space, Nelson said for a certainty northbound trains would be able
to pull up far enough so as not to block Broadway to traffic.
In the matter of the southbound trains, Nelson said he wasn’t the
expert on what the practice would be. He said the trains would have
the potential to not block Broadway, but he wasn’t certain that is
the way it would work out.
Melody Anderson wanted more information about this. She said she
wondered how IDOT would handle the gates that drop when the train is
at the station. Even if the train clears Broadway Street would the
gates still be down, or will they be triggered to go up again until
the train begins moving.
Nelson again said that was not his area of expertise, but he
imagined the answer would lie in the signal system itself. He said
he believed IDOT would have the ability to set those gates to come
back up, but he had not been given exact information regarding this.
Jonie Tibbs asked about the security fencing that is to be put up.
She wondered if the fencing would run the entire length of town, and
would it do anything to buffer the noise of the trains?
Nelson said he didn’t have the specifics on the fencing. He did know
there would be permanent fencing put on the west side of the tracks
at the depot. He said other fencing on the east side of the tracks
would be incorporated into the depot restoration.
Anderson said she was interested in hearing from the emergency
services about the closing of Pekin Street, specifically the police
Chief of police, Ken Greenslate, said that it would have an effect
on his department. He said the department would need to define
alternative routes for crossing the tracks. He said that might
include evaluating the current stop signs and asking for some
However, Greenslate said the city still has a goal of someday
creating a new safety complex for police and fire. If and when that
happens he said the complex won’t be located on Pekin Street, and it
would not be an issue for his department at all.
Soon after Greenslate spoke, Snyder began calling on the various
people in the gallery who had requested an opportunity to speak.
Caroline Kiest works at the Lincoln Public Library. She told the
council she was opposed to closing Pekin because it would create a
traffic snarl for people getting to work in the downtown area. She
also commented that Pekin is one route to Washington Monroe School.
She said she felt closing Pekin would decrease public safety and
cause problems for parents getting their kids to school.
When Pam Moriearty spoke, she first asked to confirm that currently
there are three crossings north of Broadway and three crossing
south. Snyder affirmed she was correct. She said, then if Pekin was
closed there would be only two crossings north of Broadway from east
Moriearty also wanted to know, in a 24-hour period, how many minutes
per day both Pekin and Broadway were blocked by trains.
Snyder said currently there are 9 stops a day in Lincoln. Five are
northbound and four are southbound. He figured it might take one to
two minutes for the on and off loading of passengers at each stop.
Moriearty pointed out that there is no guarantee the southbound
trains will not block Broadway, so the traffic delay the city was
trying to avoid on Broadway only amounted to a very few minutes per
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Snyder said that once high speed rail is fully implemented,
there would be an increase in the number of stops in Lincoln. He
surmised the time trains would be sitting at the station within
a 24 hour period would be up to 30 minutes all totaled. This was
his guess if Pekin Street was closed. He added, that if Pekin
stays open, then the northbound trains would enter back into the
mix and that time might double.
Sue Whiteman – P W Pools
Sue Whiteman is co-owner of P W Pools located at the corner of
Chicago and Pekin Streets. She said last fall representatives
from IDOT had come to her and her husband and wanted to purchase
the parking lot property on the south side of their building.
The Whiteman’s had refused to sell.
She became emotional saying that now it appeared IDOT and the
city was going to take the property anyway. She said as a result
her business would lose customer parking, employee parking,
access to the back side of their building where the dumpster is,
and ultimately would lose property value as well as business
Snyder said that no one was planning on taking the Whiteman’s
property. He added that in fact, they would be getting property
as a result of the surrender of right-of-way. He explained that
if Pekin were closed, the land the road is on would be divided
equally between the two adjacent property owners. The city would
get half the road for the depot, but the Whiteman’s would get
the other half. With that, they could maintain their south
parking spaces and create an alley way to the back side of their
Whiteman commented though that the added land wasn’t going to be
of any benefit. She said her customers and her company trucks
would still not be able to park on the south side of her
building, because they wouldn’t have room to back out.
Snyder asked if P W customers currently back out completely
crossing Pekin Street in order to get out of those spaces.
Whiteman said most of them do, especially the larger vehicles
Don Bode – Bode Welding
Don Bode is a business owner with his welding shop being located
on the corner of Pekin and Sangamon Streets. He told the council
when he purchased his property in 1991 it was estimated that
6,000 vehicles a day passed by his corner. He said the traffic
on Pekin was one of the main reasons he purchased the property,
because of the high visibility.
Bode said he wondered who came up with the number of only 1,500
cars per day crossing on Pekin.
Snyder said the Interstate Commerce Commission maintains
crossing counts annually. He explained the ICC maintains an
annual report of all crossings in Illinois and the information
regarding traffic counts came from their website (http://www.icc.illinois.gov/railroad/crossing.aspx?dotId=290991W
Bode wanted to know how they counted it, and if they did so
during the school year when traffic was at its peak. Snyder said
he did not have the answer to those questions.
Carol Becherer commented that she too was against closing Pekin
Street. She said she was happy that the trains stop in Lincoln,
but she has noted they do so quickly. She said to close Pekin in
order to save 3 to 5 minutes of Broadway being blocked really
didn’t make sense. She said she didn’t believe anyone would
benefit from closing Pekin Street.
She also noted that in addition to the library and School, this
would also affect church traffic and funerals.
She said she understood the money involved was attractive. She
recalled that several years ago, the city had been asked to
close some crossings. They had done so. She said the city
received quite a bit a money for that, but now that money is
gone, and the crossings are still closed.
She also commented that trains wouldn’t be stopping in Lincoln
anyway. Snyder disagreed saying with high speed rail, Amtrak is
planning to add more stops.
During the course of the evening, one speaker said the train
wasn’t that beneficial to the town, that not many people got on
and off in Lincoln, maybe only one or two per train at most.
Snyder countered that saying Amtrak has documented 25,000 per
year use the Lincoln train stop.
Before the hearing was closed, Pam Moriearty returned to the
speakers table saying she had done the math. With 25,000 people
per year, 9 trains a day, 365 days a year, it came out that on
the average each time the train stops in Lincoln 6.84 people get
on or off.
With that comment, Snyder closed the meeting and the council
took recess until 7 p.m. when their regular voting session would
This item was on the agenda for voting Monday evening. However
it was placed there with the intention of continuing the voting
session to next Tuesday. Alderman will have this week to
consider the input from the guest speaker Bruce Nelson as well
as the citizens who spoke in opposition to the plan. It is
expected they will come to the meeting prepared to vote on this
The council does have the right to table any item on the agenda
if they feel they are not fully prepared to take a vote.
[By NILA SMITH]