DOWNERS GROVE – October 17, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn was joined today by Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider, local leaders and rail officials to dedicate a new $60 million transportation infrastructure project supported by Illinois Jobs Now! that will dramatically improve traffic conditions in the area. The new Belmont Road grade separation, located near the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Metra tracks in Downers Grove, will help drivers by providing a new highway underpass and eliminating the previous railroad crossing adjacent to the commuter train station.
A partnership between the State of Illinois, Metra, DuPage County and BNSF, this project created or supported nearly 650 jobs and will reduce traffic congestion and emissions, improve roadway and rail safety, and boost economic development in the region. The project reflects Governor Quinn’s commitment to modernizing the state’s transportation infrastructure to ensure that Illinois can compete in the 21st Century economy.
“A modern transportation network will pave the way for future economic growth across Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “As a result of this new highway underpass, suburban commuters will be safer; spend less time stuck in traffic and rail congestion; and have a better quality of life.”
Prior to the beginning of this project, nearly 140 daily trains passed through the previous at-grade crossing, which resulted in heavy congestion and lengthy delays on this major north-south roadway. Almost 20,000 vehicles passed through this location every day, with nearly 3,500 of them being delayed. Motorists spent more than 20,000 hours delayed at this location every year.
This project grade separated the current railroad crossing at the BNSF tracks located at Belmont Road by constructing a new highway underpass for vehicles. The new Belmont Road segment consists of two lanes of traffic in either direction with pedestrian accommodations on the west side of Belmont. In addition to reducing congestion and auto emissions from idling, the new underpass will also prevent emergency vehicles from being delayed. Advance work on the project began in fall 2008 and main construction started in spring 2010. The majority of the work was completed in September, and the new highway underpass is open for travel today.
“Making Illinois roadways and rail systems more adaptable to an expected increase in higher traffic demands is a fundamental goal on all our transportation projects statewide,” Secretary Schneider said. “The grade separation project at Belmont Road will significantly decrease current travel times of motorists and rail commuters, improve reliability, and provide additional logistical benefits to local businesses.”
“DuPage County is committed to making railroad crossings as safe as possible. By forging partnerships with IDOT, Metra and the municipalities, we can make these and future projects more feasible,” said DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin.
“I can’t tell you how exciting and gratifying it is to celebrate the completion of such an important and beneficial project,’’ said Metra Board Member Paul C. Darley. “I want to thank everyone for sharing in this great event – and I really mean ‘share’ because this grade separation could not have been done without the special partnership that we forged with the state of Illinois, DuPage County, Downers Grove, BNSF Railway and others.”
“The importance and benefits of the Belmont Road Underpass toward enhancing public safety and mobility in Downers Grove cannot be overstated. Many will recall that the Belmont Road and Warren Avenue intersection was once considered to be the most dangerous grade crossing in the area. Now, through this impressive engineering accomplishment, that threat no longer exists. Moreover, the free flow of traffic below the rail line has reduced traffic delays, improved emergency vehicle response times, increased access to nearby businesses in the Ellsworth Business Park, and will support economic development along the Belmont Road corridor for years to come,” said Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully. “Thanks to the cooperation and persistence of many partners at multiple levels of government, this location has been transformed and now provides a safe and efficient travel route for motorists and pedestrians alike. The patience of the community has been rewarded with a terrific project completed both on budget and ahead of schedule.”
This project received an investment of $19.8 million from Governor Quinn’s six-year, $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program. Those funds supported a matching $19.8 million investment from Metra, $12 million from the Grade Crossing Protection fund which is administered by the Illinois Commerce Commission, $2.7 million from BNSF and $5.3 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ).
Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest construction program in state history. Of the $14 billion in the program dedicated for transportation needs, $11.3 billion has been spent on projects that have improved more than 6,600 miles of roads and more than 1,000 bridges, creating approximately 140,000 jobs from highway projects alone.