More than a bridge

Eliminating Randall Road’s last at-grade rail crossing will be a blessing

There was a time not that long ago that Randall Road through the Fox Valley was little more than a country road. As recently as 25 years ago, there were but a few stoplights between Batavia and Algonquin to slow motorists down.

Of course, there wasn’t that much of interest along Randall to draw motorists at that time. It was a sort of a line of demarcation between civilization and corn.

Then the old cities of Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, Elgin and Algonquin began expanding westward. As did Carpentersville, South Elgin and Lake in the Hills.

With that westward growth of housing into the cornfields came strip malls, big boxes, car dealerships, restaurants, you name it. The road grew with it, both wider and faster.

Over the last couple of decades, the Randall Road became a destination. What had been a country road with just a few stoplights is now a superhighway with dozens of them. More are still being added, notably now that Algonquin’s stretch of Randall is seeing a resurgence in development.

But there is a reminder of its agrarian past beyond the few farm houses and silos that remain: a grade-level freight train crossing south of Hopps Road at the border between Elgin and South Elgin.

Kane County this week announced it will receive a $25 million federal grant to help in the construction of an overpass that will take north- and southbound drivers on Randall over the Canadian National tracks without having to stop. It also will add a third lane in both directions.

This is touted as a rail safety project, a description South Elgin Village President Steve Ward knows something about.

“About five years ago, I witnessed a devastating, fatal accident at this intersection,” he said in a news release. “I think of the victim and her family’s heartbreak often. This investment will provide a meaningful safety improvement for motorists for years to come.”

The project, now in the design engineering stage, is expected to cost $61.8 million, most of it coming from Kane County. It’s something county board Chairwoman Corinne Pierog supports, for safety, convenience and traffic flow.

Mind you, this is the last grade crossing along Randall Road’s 36-mile stretch between Aurora and Crystal Lake. Randall no longer serves the purpose of a country road. It’s a major arterial that sees about 40,000 vehicles a day crossing the tracks. That there remains a grade-level crossing on Randall is incongruous with the road’s purpose.

Some may complain this is not needed, that it is a waste of taxpayer money. To the contrary, if it keeps all that traffic moving and helps increase safety at the same time, it is worthwhile. Especially when emergency vehicles are involved. Delnor Hospital in Geneva and Sherman Hospital in Elgin are both on Randall Road, and St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin is closer to the intersection and just a few blocks east of Randall.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.