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updated: 1/28/2014 1:05 PM

Glen Ellyn moves to address downtown traffic

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Glen Ellyn is considering a pedestrian and vehicular overpass or underpass in its central business district to address frequent traffic problems caused by passing trains.

The village board on Monday approved an engineering agreement to conduct a feasibility study and to upgrade the existing Taylor Street pedestrian underpass.

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Driving the idea of a pedestrian underpass is the village's Downtown Strategic Plan, adopted in 2009 and designed to "create an economically viable downtown that is attractive to citizens and businesses."

"In November, the village board clearly stated that many, if not all of the downtown initiatives and other capital programs cannot progress until the proposed feasibility study of the over- and underpasses is performed," said Bob Minix, Glen Ellyn's professional engineer.

Minix and other village staff members met with three consulting firms in December, and written proposals were submitted earlier this month. The village hireds Chicago-based HDR Engineers Inc., which has been a key player in recent Wheaton railroad crossing projects, including the Manchester Street Bridge and the pedestrian crossing near Wheaton College on Chase Street.

There will be three phases to the consultant's study:

• Assess possible configurations and costs for a pedestrian underpass near the Glen Ellyn train station, recommended in the strategic plan, as an alternative to existing at-grade crossings of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

• Address the long-term question of whether there is a way to improve vehicular railroad grade crossings in the downtown area. Evaluate possible corridors and locations for alternatives.

• Develop and assess alternates to the current pedestrian sidewalk configuration at the Taylor Street underpass east of the downtown area. Minix characterized the current configuration of a 3-foot sidewalk adjacent a single lane of traffic "highly undesirable."

"A lot of effort will be focused on the second item -- to me that was compelling," Minix said. "That is the area with the most unknowns and the area we need the most information."

The contract with HDR is not to exceed $70,000, including an 8 percent contingency. The study is expected to take four months, culminating with a presentation to the village board in May.

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