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Article updated: 5/22/2013 12:18 AM

Barrington Dist. 220 wary of supporting either Rt. 14 crossing plan

By Eric Peterson

For a second time Tuesday, Barrington Unit District 220 board members held back from passing a resolution supporting either a Route 14 underpass or overpass at the Canadian National Railway crossing in Barrington.

But the board appeared to be leaning toward supporting a non-specific grade separation at the railroad tracks at its next meeting, June 4.

Village of Barrington officials have been soliciting public input on a proposed overpass or underpass to help mitigate the road congestion expected from anticipated increases in freight train traffic on the CN tracks.

North Barrington, South Barrington and Barrington Township have already passed resolutions supporting a road underpass beneath the tracks, and the Barrington Area Council of Governments is expected to do the same next week.

But District 220 board members Tuesday spoke in favor of supporting a grade separation in general to keep the focus on the public safety aspect of the proposal, rather than choosing between the impacts of an underpass or overpass, which would affect different specific homes and businesses.

"I just don't feel comfortable saying I support A or B," board member Penny Kazmier said.

"I don't know enough, I haven't read enough, to know what is better," board member Wendy Farley agreed.

Board member Richard Burkhart said pending improvements to the Panama Canal will soon allow any ship in the world to pass through -- making future demand for freight train traffic far less than what CN has been predicting.

Council Executive Director Janet Agnoletti said Tuesday she wasn't familiar with that argument, but said she felt now was the time to plan for the worst. If the Panama Canal project has such an effect, it would be clearly known by the time construction would begin on a Route 14 overpass or underpass anyway, she said.

The Barrington Area Council of Governments is supporting the $55 million to $60 million underpass over the $40 million to $50 million overpass because it avoids the impacts a 30-foot-tall overpass would create, Agnoletti said.

She believes an overpass would create a virtual "Great Wall of Barrington" that would divide the village and its surrounding area into northern and southern halves.

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