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Route 14 Underpass and Lake Zurich Road Realignment Project

Post Date:04/24/2017

 Click here for a printable copy of this article.

  For FAQs Re: Lake Zurich Road Realignment and Route 14/ CN Grade Separation Project, click here
  For an update on the Lake Zurich Road realignment and Route 14/ CN grade separation, click here
  For information regarding CN Operations on the EJ&E - Past, Present, Future, click here
  For a copy of a letter to the editor written in response to Daily Herald story relative to Great Lakes Basin Railroad, click here

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The Village continues to receive a number of questions regarding the current status of the Route 14 underpass and specifically the impacts on Jewel Park.  We hope the following will clarify a number of the repeat questions we have received and serve as a guide to what residents should expect as the project progresses. 

BACKGROUND

In 2009, the Canadian National Railway acquired the EJ&E railroad tracks that cross the Village of Barrington at Lake Zurich Road, Route 14, Route 59 and Main Street. Canadian National’s purchase vastly increased the volume of lengthy freight trains across our community (20+ per day, sometimes two miles in length or longer), which stops traffic across the entire Village and causes numerous safety issues, including the inability for ambulances to cross town to reach the hospital as well as many other traffic congestion issues throughout the day and night.

For the past 10 years, the Village of Barrington has worked diligently with Federal and State agencies to find solutions to the significant impact that the CN brings to our community. A 2010 Federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) planning grant allowed Barrington to study and complete Phase I of a grade separation mitigation solution (underpass) at the CN crossing at Route 14 near Lake Zurich Road.

Rt 14 Preferred AlternativeThis underpass project would also include the preferred realignment of Lake Zurich Road to intersect at the current Berry Road traffic signal, alleviating numerous safety concerns about the current intersection.

As a part of this project, 8 homes along Elm Road in the Jewel Park neighborhood are to be acquired and demolished. Obviously this part of the project  - as well as other facets of the project - raises questions in the community. Below we attempt to bring the community up to speed on the current status of this project and address some of the questions that continue to be asked.

1) Remind me what was approved and why.

The Village followed a Federally mandated public review process as it related to the problem of the Canadian National train blockages of U.S. Route 14.  80% of this project was funded by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and 20% was funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT); no Village funds were utilized in this phase. 

This process involved the creation of a Community Advisory Group that included representatives from all interested parties, including Jewel Park residents, Shorely Wood residents, nearby businesses, the Barrington Park District, the Barrington Area Library, an independent civil engineer, and commuters who use Route 14 regularly.  Furthermore, the process involved four public meetings at various stages of the process.  At each meeting, public feedback was collected. 

Following the conclusion of the final Public Hearing, the Village took time to review all of the comments received throughout the public process, whether at the meetings, in writing, website comments, and/or by email.  The following were the results of the project’s public process:

  • Over 500 individual respondents submitted comments.
  • 70% of respondents supported the underpass as designed.
  • 7% of respondents supported an overpass.
  • 13% of respondents supported the no action alternative.
  • 10% of respondents did not specify a response.

The potential Lake Zurich Road Realignment option was also presented.  The following is the input that was received:

  • 88% of respondents expressed support for the realignment of Lake Zurich Road to the Berry Road traffic signal.
  • 12% of respondents expressed opposition to the realignment of Lake Zurich Road.

Based upon this input and coordination efforts with IDOT, regulatory and resource agencies, and the Canadian National Railway, the Underpass with the Lake Zurich Road Realignment was selected as the Preferred Alternative.  After a thorough review of the designs, public comments and project documents, the Village received final approval for this project from the USDOT and IDOT on August 29, 2014.  This Federal and State approval officially sets the future for this segment of roadway; this means that the underpass is a question of when, not if, it will be built.   

A complete recap of the public involvement process, meeting and exhibits are available online at http://www.us14-cn.com/.

2) When will the Lake Zurich Road relocation begin?

As of spring 2017, the Lake Zurich re-routing project is fully funded and ready to begin once all impacted parties are on board. Nearly $4 million in Federal Surface Transportation and almost $1 million in State matching funds will be leveraged through the use of only $348,700 in Village funds towards construction costs. However, maintaining access to the Federal and State funds is dependent on keeping the project on schedule.

3) What could delay the Lake Zurich Road relocation project?

The Village moved forward with this project based on initial support from both the Barrington Park District and the Barrington Area Library. The Village is in the process of securing temporary easements on seven properties along Berry Road west of Route 14. Currently, four of these seven properties are under contract, with a fifth pending only final signatures. Discussions continue with the remaining two parcels. 

At this time, the Barrington Area Library is still debating their concerns regarding perceived impacts.  The Village retained Civiltech Engineering to address each of the Library’s concerns and provided written documentation addressing how each concern was either unfounded, or would be completely mitigated. In fact, the new proposed intersection provides numerous benefits to the Library, including:

  • increased safety for Library patrons -- the new traffic pattern will not go past the front library entrance, which currently cuts between patron parking and the entryway
  • fewer vehicle delays in entering and exiting the library parking lot
  • additional parking spaces
  • elimination of cost to the Library for maintenance of the existing Berry Road traffic signal
  • elimination of Library’s rain water storage on the parking lot surface

In order for the Lake Zurich Road relocation project to begin in the 2018 construction season, the community must secure the final support of the Library. The Park District has indicated that it supports the project and previously gave the Village rights across their property for this construction.

If the Village is not able to move forward with this plan, the existing intersection at Lake Zurich Road and Route 14 would likely stay as is. However, maintaining the existing Lake Zurich Road access to Route 14 with the new underpass would result in an unsafe down-sloped intersection, which would only make conditions even worse at that intersection, especially during snow, ice, or rain conditions.

In addition, the affected portion of Lake Zurich Road would be closed for up to 10 months during the final phases of the Route 14 underpass project to facilitate construction, whereas the new route could be constructed while maintaining the current roadway, leading to no need for a closure.

The Village is hoping to secure the support of the Library in order to move forward with the re-routing of Lake Zurich Road in 2018. This will ensure a much safer intersection for our community, both now and especially once the underpass project is completed.

If you wish to let the Library Board know your feelings about supporting this project, you may contact the Library Board at http://www.barringtonarealibrary.org/library-board.

4) When will the Elm Road properties in Jewel Park be acquired, and why is there not a plan for the interim period after the Elm Road properties are acquired?    

Initially the plan had been that these properties would remain intact until the underpass project was fully funded and that the properties would proceed directly from acquisition to demolition and project construction.  As a result, there was no interim condition planned during the initial project process.  As the project evolved, residents of those properties expressed to the Village and State that they felt trapped in properties that were not desirable for resale.  As a result of those comments, the Village and IDOT began an early acquisition process that would allow property owners to sell their properties in advance of the project to relieve this burden.  IDOT has completed the appraisals for these properties and is currently scheduling appointments with these property owners to present purchase offers for the properties and relocation expenses. 

5) Will these homes be demolished, when?

IDOT has expressed to the Village that they are not a landlord and do not undertake property rentals or maintenance.  Instead, they will demolish the homes after acquisition.  IDOT will not remove the properties in a one-off fashion, but instead will cluster the removals together in pairs of at least two to three at a time.   With offers to be completed this year and appropriate time for existing owners and tenants to relocate, IDOT does not expect demolitions to occur until summer of 2018 or later. 

6) What will this area look like in the interim period between demolition and project inception? 

The Village has contracted with Civiltech Engineering to develop interim condition plans and renderings.  The Village intends for the interim condition to be a park-like setting, including a manicured lawn, with the rear yard fences and landscaping, as well as most existing trees to remain.  These plans will serve as a proactive tool with IDOT to set expectations for the property.  This approach by the Village should be far more successful than allowing the State to decide what these properties will look like.  These plans will further give the neighborhood a standard to hold parties to as it relates to the interim appearance of these properties.  The Village expects to offer to IDOT to take on regular maintenance, such as mowing, in the interim period as our lawn-mowing and maintenance frequency will be higher than the State level of maintenance.  The Village anticipates a neighborhood presentation of the initial plan in June or July of this year.

7) When will the underpass be constructed?

This is a difficult question to answer because the timeline will be driven by project funding.  Relying on outside funding sources saves the taxpayers of our community millions of dollars, and construction of a project of this magnitude is simply outside the Village’s regular budget allowances.  However, this project has benefits both inside and outside of our community and represents a so called “project of regional significance.”  This status, along with Route 14’s status as a Federal highway with State maintenance, opens a myriad of funding opportunities.  This is one of the many reasons the project has already secured more than $17 million of outside funding to advance the underpass, with millions more currently under review by Federal agencies.  Of course, one consequence of reliance on these funding sources is that they can often drive the project schedule.  Under the best case scenario, there is an additional two years of engineering and acquisition work to be completed, once full funding is received, before construction can begin.  Construction itself is expected to take two full construction seasons.

If you have further questions, please contact Greg Summers, Director of Development Services, at gsummers@barrington-il.gov or (847) 304-3460.

 

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