Durbin, Duckworth want feds to keep monitoring railroad, make CN pay for underpass
Both of Illinois' senators joined the village of Barrington and the Illinois Department of Transportation this week in asking the nation's top railway regulator to once again extend the monitoring period on Canadian National Railroad and require it to help pay for the Route 14 underpass.
The federal oversight period that the Surface Transportation Board had on CN, which owns the EJ&E railway that runs through Barrington, ran out last week. The oversight period first started in 2009, shortly after Canadian National bought the railway in 2008.
In their letter, Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth said while "some progress" has been made over the last several years in addressing their concerns, CN's increased rail traffic on the EJ&E railway continues to negatively impact several suburban Illinois communities and the broader regional rail system.
A representative from the Surface Transportation Board said Wednesday that the agency received the senators' letter and placed it in the public record in the proceeding currently pending before the board.
"We're happy to have them supporting our efforts to extend oversight and seek mitigation from CN to help fund the underpass at Route 14," Barrington Village President Karen Darch said.
Darch said she spoke with Durbin about the issues while at a U.S. Conference of Mayors event in Washington, D.C., in January.
The village has long maintained that CN should be made to contribute financially to the $67.4 million project to build the Route 14 underpass. The project, which has been in the works since 2010, would carve out an underpass beneath the tracks on Northwest Highway east of Route 59. That would ensure there is always at least one crossing in the village that won't be shut down when the CN trains roll through town. Around $17 million has been committed to the project from federal and state sources. Village officials are seeking additional federal and state funds and anticipate the village will have to pay only $403,317 for the underpass.
Darch said CN's decision to purchase the EJ&E railway has been very successful for it and part of that success has meant Barrington residents have had to deal with more train traffic.
"Mitigation is important so the burden for paying doesn't just fall on the American taxpayers while one of the large Canadian railroads is doing well." Darch said.