Bean, Durbin Announce $2.8 Million for EJ&E Mitigation

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Congresswoman Melissa Bean and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the City of Barrington will receive a $2.8 million grant to fund 100 percent of the planning, designing and engineering of a grade separation at the U.S. Route 14 and Eastern Joliet & Elgin (EJ&E) Railway crossing. The funding was awarded today by the Department of Transportation through the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER II) program.


“These funds are a critical start toward addressing the vital safety and quality-of-life concerns that have arisen in our communities since the CN merger,” Bean said. “I commend Secretary LaHood and the Administration for recognizing the severe regional impact that this increased rail traffic has had on our community’s families and businesses.”


“I am glad that the Department of Transportation understands the importance for safety and mitigation measures and is taking action today to make these rail crossings safer,” said Durbin. “Congresswoman Bean has been a tireless advocate on behalf of her constituents affected by increased freight traffic along the railroad and I will continue working with her to ensure that the safety of residents and travelers is the primary focus.”


“We are pleased to receive preliminary Phase I engineering funding from the TIGER II grant program, and are grateful for Congresswoman Bean’s support of our application,” said Barrington Village President Karen Darch. “We recognize this is a first step in securing necessary mitigation for the impacts of CN’s acquisition of the EJ&E railroad.”


One of the most trafficked intersections along the EJ&E Railway is at U.S. Route 14 in Barrington, utilized by about 40,000 commuters daily. U.S. Route 14 is the only U.S. Route in Illinois affected by Canadian National’s acquisition of the EJ&E Railway that is not grade separated from the railroad. Constructing an underpass to grade separate the intersection at this location will allow this location to adequately handle the expected increase in freight rail traffic due to the acquisition.


On December 24th, 2008, the Surface Transportation Board approved Canadian National’s purchase of the EJ&E Railway, which forms an arc around Chicago from Waukegan, Illinois to Gary, Indiana. With the acquisition of the EJ&E Railway, Canadian National aims to increase freight rail traffic along the line (from 5 to 20 trains per day). Both Bean and Durbin have been working to address community concerns about blocked crossings that exacerbate traffic bottlenecks and challenge emergency responders’ mobility, rail safety, noise, air pollution from additional congestion, and interference with proposed Metra expansions.


Nearly $19 billion in bids were submitted nationwide for the $600 million made available today through the TIGER II program – meaning $32 in requests for every $1 available. The program was created by Congress in the 2010 Transportation Appropriations Act for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure. Final applications for TIGER II were due August 23, and Congresswoman Bean submitted a letter of support on Sept. 29.


The TIGER II program is similar, but not identical to the TIGER program that was authorized under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Roughly $57 billion in bids were submitted nationwide for the $1.5 billion that was made available for grants through the original TIGER program. In February, three Illinois transportation projects received a total of $128 million in funding.