Durbin Will Fight for Federal Funding Promised to Barrington for EJ&E Mitigation, But Taken Back by House Bill

[BARRINGTON, IL] – A $2.8 million federal grant to the City of Barrington to fund the planning, designing and engineering of a grade separation at the U.S. Route 14 and Eastern Joliet & Elgin (EJ&E) Railway crossing is now at risk after the House of Representatives passed its spending bill, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today.   The project’s funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER II program is eliminated in the House of Representatives spending bill for the current fiscal year (FY11), which was approved by the House along party lines early Saturday morning.  The bill cuts more than $6.8 billion in transportation spending to states and communities, including Barrington, which have already been promised funding. The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration where Durbin will fight to keep the funding.
“Just five months ago, the City of Barrington was awarded $2.8 million funding through the Department of Transportation’s TIGER II program to begin addressing the vital safety and quality-of-life concerns that had arisen in the community since the CN merger. Today, I am here to tell you that the House Republicans wants it back. This funding was a commitment to the residents of this community that their safety is the primary focus. But, if the House has its way, Congress would go back on that commitment. This mindless cut is a clear signal that the House bill is not the product of a thoughtful effort. Yes, we need to cut spending, but we need to do so in a responsible manner,” Durbin said.
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.  Canadian National’s acquisition of the EJ&E Railway will increase the number and length of trains going through Barrington. The crossing is not grade separated from the railroad, raising serious safety concerns.
Constructing an underpass to grade separate the intersection at this location will help handle the increase in freight rail traffic expected as a result of 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).  Durbin has worked 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.

The Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program was created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in order to give local communities the chance to apply directly to the federal government for funding their highest priority transportation projects. In order to meet the overwhelming demand, Congress authorized a second round of funding through the TIGER II program. In February 2010, three Illinois transportation projects, including Barrington, received a total of $22.8 million in funding through this program.