Mount Prospect might add another downtown railroad crossing
Mount Prospect leaders believe they're gaining the inside track on overcoming traffic congestion at the village's Main Street railroad crossing.
With the growth of downtown redevelopment in recent years, officials have been working to improve the flow of pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles across the Union Pacific tracks.
Their latest move is commissioning a $200,000 study that will examine the feasibility of a new rail crossing, or extending the platform at the downtown Metra station to reduce crossing gate down time. On Tuesday, the village board hired HDR Engineering of Rosemont to conduct the Railroad Crossing Alternatives Feasibility Study.
Public Works Director Sean Dorsey said discussions with the Union Pacific railroad and the Illinois Commerce Commission convinced the village that a feasibility study is needed to garner support for the improvements.
Dorsey cited HDR's experience in the transportation and rail sectors and especially its experience in dealing with the Union Pacific, with both firms headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska. He added that HDR has recently completed similar studies in Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, and Lake Forest and has a working relationship with the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Trustee William Grossi, however, questioned whether HDR's long relationship with the Union Pacific would benefit the village.
"I'm a little skeptical that they're going to give us a report that is not going to favor the railroad over our needs," he said.
Dorsey responded that access to the railroad would provide an advantage to the village.
"We felt that it was very valuable to know who the key decision-makers are, but more importantly how to access them," he said.
Trustee Michael Zadel agreed.
"This is a feasibility study. This is not a situation where the village is working against the railroad or the railroad is trying to stop the village from doing something," Zadel said. "I don't see any kind of conflict of interest here at all."
Other steps by the village to ease congestion at the crossing have included modifying downtown pedestrian crossing signals to reduce traffic signal cycle time. The village also expects the upcoming relocation of the police and fire headquarters to cut down on the preemption of downtown traffic signals by emergency vehicles.