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updated: 8/9/2011 6:13 AM

Barrington takes first step toward underpass beneath CN tracks

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  • Barrington officials on Monday are expected to authorize an engineering study, a precursor to building an underpass beneath the CN tracks at Route 14.

      Barrington officials on Monday are expected to authorize an engineering study, a precursor to building an underpass beneath the CN tracks at Route 14.
    Samantha Bowden | Staff Photographer


Barrington officials Monday plan to authorize a $3.5 million preliminary engineering study for an underpass beneath the Canadian National Railway tracks at Route 14.

The village's financial contribution will be zero.

Last October, Barrington received a $2.8 million federal grant intended to cover 80 percent of the study. The remaining $700,000 is being paid by the Illinois Department of Transportation, which will partner with Barrington.

Civiltech Engineering Inc. of Itasca will be awarded the contract for the approximately yearlong study which will also involve public input, Barrington's Director of Engineering and Building Greg Summers said.

The goal of the underpass is to lessen the traffic on local roadways caused by the increased number of freight trains on the railroad tracks CN purchased in 2009.

The total construction cost for the proposed underpass is estimated at about $69 million, the sources of which have not yet been identified.

Summers said Barrington initially applied for a federal grant for 80 percent of the entire project, but so far only the portion for preliminary engineering was awarded. However, it's still hoped federal money will pay for 80 percent of construction.

In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling ordering CN to pay a big share of the cost for underpasses in Aurora and Lynwood -- but none for Barrington.

The courts reasoned the funding was needed in Aurora and Lynwood because of higher traffic volume there.

But Barrington Village President Karen Darch said that once those other two underpasses are built, Route 14 will be the only federal highway in the region to cross the CN tracks at the same level.

Though CN successfully fought any legal obligation to contribute to the Barrington underpass, Summers said railroads typically pay about 15 percent toward such projects.

There is hope among Barrington officials that will be true in this case, too, despite a present lack of commitment from CN, he added. After all, he said, CN benefits when a grade-level crossing is eliminated.

At the very least, CN could not ignore that an underpass was being built beneath its tracks and would have to play some role in the design and planning, Summers said.

CN spokesman Patrick Waldron said it is true the company would be involved in the oversight of any underpass construction that takes place.

"Moving forward, we will participate in the same manner as any other grade-separation project across the state," Waldron said.

However, he could not comment on any future financial commitment by CN.

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