Editorial: An end in sight for Barrington's traffic snarls

  • For years, motorists trying to get through downtown Barrington have been forced to endure traffic backs up along Hough Street.

    For years, motorists trying to get through downtown Barrington have been forced to endure traffic backs up along Hough Street. Daily Herald File

 
Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted10/17/2019 3:52 PM

Barrington Village President Karen Darch responded to the news by calling it "a huge relief for traffic" trying to get through the center of town.

Last week, village officials received word that regional agencies are awarding Barrington $48.5 million in federal funds to be spent on a $73.5 million underpass at Route 14 and the Canadian National Railway tracks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Those tracks are used by myriad freight trains and for years, those trains inevitably have blocked traffic going through town.

Those traffic backups haven't just been a frustration.

They've also presented a genuine health threat when they've delayed emergency vehicles trying to go north to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital on Route 22.

"Huge relief" might indeed be an understatement.

Unless you've sat in one of those backups, it's hard to adequately appreciate the level of frustration, inconvenience and lost time.

For years, those traffic snarls have been the subject of village board deliberations and local political debates. And for years, an underpass has been the dream solution, but frankly, it's been one that some skeptics have seen as little more than an unrealistic pipe dream.

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Hard to blame them. Where was the money going to come from?

But Darch and community leaders have persevered and suddenly, this dream has become a realistic answer.

Federal grants already had directed $11 million toward the project.

The federal latest grants got the OK last week from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the policy committee for the Metropolitan Planning Organization. They'll amount to $10.6 million next year and $37.9 million in 2023.

That adds up to $59.5 million.

The remaining $14 million, Darch said, should come via a combination of federal, state and local contributions and some funds from the railroad.

Barrington's job focus needs to be on designing a project that will on the one hand solve the problem while on the other complementing rather than detracting from the historic and wooded character of the village. .

That's no small challenge, but given the challenges Barrington's already has met in bringing this ambitious project toward completion, it's one village planners should be able to meet.

Kudos, in the meantime, to Darch and her team at village hall. Patience and perseverance bring their rewards.

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