Town of NormalNORMAL – Of seven options for a railroad crossing, to be used to get passengers from one track to the other at Uptown Station, engineering consultants working with Town of Normal officials are recommending an underpass. At a meeting held March 27 in Town Council Chambers on the fourth floor of the station, the underpass option also appeared the favorite among some of the 70 people in attendance.

Outside of Council Chambers and before the session began, easels holding artists’ conceptions of all the varying options were in place with representatives from both the engineering firm, New York City-based WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, and the Town standing by to answer questions.

Inside a nearby conference room, slides of the different concepts continued to roll as some attendees filled out comment cards which representatives from the Town and the engineering firm will pore over.

Inside Council Chambers, attendees made their thoughts on a means of getting from one side of the tracks to the other clear – they were in favor of using an underpass. An underpass was also what WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff recommended to the Town.

In response to a question from resident Alan Swanson, Carrie Desmond, an engineer with WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, said Union Pacific Railroad prohibits train station platforms from being connected to the tracks.

Julie Hile, owner of a consulting company, The Hile Group, and also in the audience at this event, responded by saying a study done by Operation Lifesaver found there were 2,000 casualties at railroad crossings in 2015. According to its website, Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and trespassing on or near railroad tracks.

Hile added the railroad industry wants to get crossings up and away from any way people could possibly hurt themselves.

Normal resident John Craft said he would like to see the Town keep the grade crossing at Linden St. He added he thought building an overpass, rather than an underpass, would be more financially responsible on the part of the Town.

The Town is paying WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff $1.4 million to do the research needed for the project. Among seven options the engineering firm presented the Town for this project included construction of an overpass and doing nothing, leaving things stand. When a study commissioned by the Town called Normal 2.0 came out in 2014, that report listed the cost of an overpass at $12.7 million while listing the cost of an underpass at $8.6 million.

Residents can find the options being considered for the crossing on the Town’s website, www.normal.org, and may submit comments before May 27. Normal Town Council members will decide on the option to be used at a June meeting.

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