Barrington gets funding to shift Lake Zurich Road, not yet for Rt. 14 underpass

  • This rendering shows the proposed underpass project at Route 14 in Barrington. Officials are waiting to hear from two federal agencies that could help the village obtain funding for the project.

    This rendering shows the proposed underpass project at Route 14 in Barrington. Officials are waiting to hear from two federal agencies that could help the village obtain funding for the project. Courtesy of village of Barrington

 
 
Posted8/20/2015 5:30 AM

Funding has been found for a $2.2 million project to eliminate the dangerous intersection where Lake Zurich Road meets Northwest Highway near the Canadian National Railway tracks in Barrington.

Village officials hope the project is a precursor to the much larger Route 14 underpass.

 

Greg Summers, the director of development services for Barrington, said the project will shift Lake Zurich Road south to the intersection of Berry Road and Northwest Highway, which also serves as the entrance to the Barrington Area Public Library.

Summers said the village found that the Lake Zurich Road intersection had a high rate of accidents and low visibility, a bad combination that wouldn't go well with the planned underpass beneath the nearby railroad tracks.

"We would have taken an area with bad visibility problems and put retaining walls near it and make the visibility problems worse," Summers said.

Summers said half the project's cost will be paid for by the federal government, and the rest will be split equally between the state and village.

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The Barrington village board approved three ordinances Monday that allow the project to move forward.

"I'm really happy to see the removal of any safety concern for this intersection," Trustee Jason Lohmeyer said. "I just feel like it is real important that this dangerous and difficult intersection is addressed."

While the village has found the money for the Lake Zurich Road project, the search for funding for the $59 million underpass continues.

Summers said the village has identified about $18 million from the state and other grant sources, leaving $41 million more needed.

Village President Karen Darch said the village is waiting to see whether federal authorities will force CN to pay a large chunk of the remainder, a request authorities denied in 2008, 2009 and 2011.

The village argues that CN has increased rail traffic through the community, which is a significant concern because four train crossings in town are separated by just 6,000 feet. As a result, a long freight train could prevent emergency vehicles from responding to emergencies on the other side of the tracks, according to the village.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The proposed underpass would ensure that at least one crossing in town wouldn't be shut down.

CN has argued that Barrington had traffic problems that would not be solved by requiring the railroad to help fund an underpass.

Darch said she did not know when the federal Surface Transportation Board would rule on the village's most recent request.

Other possible sources of money remain. Summers said the village applied for a $35 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and should get a response by the end of the year.

Don't expect to see work on either project anytime soon, though. Summers said the village will spend the next two years acquiring land and drawing plans for the Lake Zurich Road shift, with construction beginning in 2018.

The underpass project will also require two years of pre-construction work, which will be followed by two years of construction.

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