Barrington underpass opponents, village at odds

  • Barrington voters will get to weigh in Nov. 8 on an advisory referendum concerning plans to build a $67.4 million underpass carrying Route 14 beneath the Canadian National Railway tracks east of Route 59.

    Barrington voters will get to weigh in Nov. 8 on an advisory referendum concerning plans to build a $67.4 million underpass carrying Route 14 beneath the Canadian National Railway tracks east of Route 59. Courtesy of Village of Barrington

 
 
Updated 9/15/2016 7:36 PM

The Barrington residents behind an advisory referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot asking voters whether taxpayers should fund construction of a proposed Route 14 underpass at the Canadian National Railway tracks say the village hasn't provided enough information or received enough feedback about the $67.4 million project.

Village officials who've hosted multiple public hearings on the plan over the past five years beg to differ.

 

Resident Theresa Griffin said the group doesn't object to the village's efforts to mitigate increased CN railway traffic, but it doesn't believe the underpass is the best solution.

"We're trying to get the pulse of the village. Is this what we really want?" Griffin said of the referendum.

Village officials counter that the underpass plan has been vetted thoroughly by a community group, the village staff, state engineers and the various state and federal agencies that have provided millions of dollars of funding to the project.

"It wasn't just something quietly offstage and out of the public eye," Village President Karen Darch said.

The process started in 2012 with the first of four public meetings designed to get resident feedback. Greg Summers, the village's director of development services, said the meetings helped determine what the current plan looks like. It was at a public event that residents decided on an underpass rather than an overpass, he said.

Proponents say the underpass would ensure there is always at least one crossing in the village that won't be shut down by train traffic.

Griffin said the group also is not satisfied with the lines of communication between residents and the village.

However, Summers said almost every question about the project is referred to him, and he does not remember Griffin ever reaching out with questions or concerns.

Summers said the village will continue to reach out to the community regarding the project. Another opportunity for the public will come during a Coffee & Conversation with the Board event from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday at village hall, 200 S. Hough St.

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