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OK, I’ve held my tongue but somebody’s gotta say it

Wednesday, Sep 23, 2009

* I haven’t said anything much about the Springfield controversy about running several high-speed trains through the city every day because, frankly, I have a quiet little life in this town and I just want to be left alone. I don’t think I’ve even met my alderman.

But this comment from Springfield Ald. Kris Theilen caught my eye

[Theilen] referred to the Third Street vs. 10th Street debate as a choice between bisecting downtown on Third Street or creating a “true east/west boundary at 10th Street” and urged them to go around Springfield instead.

I think Theilen is probably right that the heart of the debate so far has been about either disrupting downtown or cutting off the East Side even more. For those of you who don’t know much about the town, the East Side is where the poor folk live. Mostly black. This is from a different SJ-R article…

Civic leaders prefer consolidating local rail traffic along 10th Street. They say the Third Street alignment would permanently scar and divide the city.

They prefer “permanently dividing” the East Side from everyplace else, apparently.

But going around Springfield? Is that alderman nuts? Aren’t the high-speed trains supposed to stop here? They’ll be a huge boon to the local economy. Not to mention that the nine overpasses which’ll have to be built will create quite a few jobs and probably be useful.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous45 - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 9:49 am:

    Rich, sounds like you need to put together a group to provide citizen input to this planning effort…I am being totally serious! Go get’em…

  2. - NowInTx - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 9:50 am:

    Can’t they put it underground? That would still create jobs and bring Springfield into the 21st century.

  3. - Captain Flume - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 9:51 am:

    I would suspect none of the above are going to happen. Why? Not enough money, absolutely no statesmanship, and vision scarrred by division.

    But what is likely to happen is that Joe White will be resigning from the U of I, maybe very soon, from what I read.

  4. - publius - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 9:53 am:

    you should check out what the overpass on lawrence will do to the dana thomas house—these are not high speed trains like france or japan—if they used the old northwestern right of way around town they could have a station right near the airport

  5. - Anonymous45 - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 9:56 am:

    I would advocate for the trains to stop in the vicinity of downtown, very convenient for day trippers and business folks …is there an old/unused industrial/commercial site available near rail lines?

  6. - train111 - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 9:56 am:

    OK–here we go again. First the loonies with the EJ&E and now Springfield.

    The Springfield media popped up with this 40 trains a day rubbish and that nonsense figure has been thrown around ever since–mostly by politicians trying to scare people into buying their line of thought.
    Somewhere a Union Pacific executive was quoted as saying that the line after being improved will have the CAPACITY TO HANDLE 40 TRAINS PER DAY. That is totally different from the idea that they are going to put 40 trains per day on the route.
    Presently Amtrak runs its 5 trains each way per day and Union Pacific runs a north one day and south the next between East St Louis and Bloomington–so that’s presently 11 trains. All the hype is about UP opening up its Global 4 intermodal terminal south of Joliet next June and routing more freights onto the line–40 trains per day if you ask the politicians and media who are so detached from reality it isn’t even funny. If you look at what UP is planning, they want to shift their international intermodal business to the new terminal. How much does that amount to? As of right now probably about 2 trains southbound and 1-3 trains northbound depending on the day of the week. It’s an increase but far from the 40 trains per day nonsense being scramed out by the local media and the village politicians. But, what would politics be without scare tactics??


  7. - Mope - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 9:58 am:

    Several years ago they built the new bus station on Dirksen Parkway near I-55 near the IDOT Hanley Building. The plan was to move all transportion to the far east side near the interstate. What happened to that plan!!

  8. - Secret Square - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 9:59 am:

    An underground route wouldn’t work not only because of the astronomical expense involved, but also because of all the abandoned mine shafts underneath Springfield (some of which have never been properly mapped). A Big Dig-style tunnel project accidentially hitting one of those and causing an entire neighborhood to be sucked into the ground is just what the city needs.

  9. - Northsider - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:01 am:


    You’re right; bypassing Springfield is a non-starter and proof that this alderman hasn’t thought this one through. The point is to link the state capital with the state’s largest city, flagship university, and nearest large city neighbor. I’m not sure where the Springfield station would be placed, but the general idea behind HSR stations is that they’re catalysts for new development that should be concentrated in already developed areas — not in “greenfield” sites that would simply create more sprawl. As such, the Springfield station can, and probably will boost nearby property values. That a big economic opportunity.


    Putting the HSR line underground was my first thought, too. I recently rode the Eurostar from London to Paris, and that’s what France and the UK did on sections of the route — tunneled under portions of cities. I’m not sure how much extra cost that would be for this line, but perhaps it’s worth exploring.

  10. - Sir Reel - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:01 am:

    The controversy is not just about high-speed trains. Union Pacific also wants to add a second track to the 3rd Street corridor and then run more/longer freight trains on the tracks, some say up to 40 trains per day. That amount of train traffic will mean much longer delays at existing 3rd Street crossings as well as new separated crossings. More houses and businesses are located along the 3rd Street corridor compared to the 10th Street corridor, so in theory there would be more displacement/disruption for the 3rd Street corridor. All that said, wherever this ends up, it will become a barrier, more because of the freight trains than the high-speed trains. I believe the overall impact to all of Springfield would be worse with the 3rd Street corridor because the impact on downtown businesses, the medical district, tourism, etc. would be greater and would affect all residents to some degree. A new corridor around Springfield would mean acquiring land from landowners, always a controversial proposition, which would take years and years.

  11. - downstate hick - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:01 am:

    Going around Springfield doesn’t mean we would not have a stop just outside of town. Also building new tracks would create as many jobs as nine over passes without permanently scarring downtown or isolating the East side neighborhood even more. 40 to 60 freight trains each day dividing our City is asinine. This is a program for the freight railroads not high speed passenger rail. (This whole effort will probably only cut a hour from the current St. Louis/Chicago route.

  12. - Crafty Girl - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:03 am:

    All for the high speed rail, Rich. And even believe 3rd Street is the best option. But have you seen the plans for the 9 overpasses? They’re behemoths. One of which will be right outside my living room window.

    No thanks! I doubt you’d like it either Rich. There must be a better way to “mitigate” the effects. That said, Kris Theilan’s proposal is nuts. (And I know and like Kris)

  13. - Springfield resident - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:05 am:

    This project is not just about high speed rail. If the 3rd Street rail corridor is used, there will be second track added to accommodate additional freight traffic (estimated 40-60 trains per day). It’s important that all community interests be heard and a little imagination used to find a better solution. I like the idea of putting the tracks below grade.

  14. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:07 am:

    ===Several years ago they built the new bus station on Dirksen Parkway near I-55 near the IDOT Hanley Buildin===

    The bus station moved because Greyhound broke its driver’s union and new hires weren’t qualified to drive thru town. They moved stations all over the country outside of downtowns.

  15. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:08 am:

    ===there will be second track added===

    You say that as if it’s a done deal. Not so sure it is.

  16. - Northside Bunker - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:26 am:

    How about the 2016 Olympics in Springfield? High-Speed train to Chi-Town in 30 minutes. Makes sense!
    So much for your little hamlet.

  17. - N.I.M.B.Y. - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:27 am:

    Illinois as a whole may lose out on a great improvement because of the Springfield group opposing this. Once again a not in my back yard argument gets in the way of what could be real progress. Thanks Springfield.

  18. - yinn - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:30 am:

    As people follow these debates they should be sure to differentiate between UP, Amtrak and commuter rail because each would impact your community in a different way.

    UP has two tracks bisecting DeKalb and, since the railport went in over in Rochelle, about 80 trains a day run through here. Plus, some trains have to wait on others just outside of town. They are not up to speed by the time they come through so it takes even longer.

    If UP is telling you 40-train capacity and there’s a railport in your future, you should consider the strong possibility of their meeting the capacity. Also, if the tracks belonging to UP are shared by passenger trains, the freights have the right of way.

  19. - Plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:32 am:

    The money spent on HSR in Illinois will just be another boondoggle because the pols are calling the shots rather than the transportation experts.

    The freight line companies are trying to steer as much $$ of the project toward their purposes as possible while no one is looking at the big picture.

    It does not take a lot of knowledge to understand that you do not want HSR as well as freight traffic moving through the middle of a populated area. The noise and the hazardous freight should be routed through commercial/industrial areas to minimize the effects on people’s homes.

    The best planning I have seen envisions multimodal transportation centers outside of population centers where air, rail and roadway transport intersect so travelers can change to/from complementing transportation modes along with a feeder system into the urban area.

  20. - Secret Square - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:33 am:

    “They moved stations all over the country outside of downtowns.”

    I guess that would explain why the Decatur “bus station” moved to a run-down motel near I-72…

  21. - SangamoGOP - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:33 am:

    Thielen is a johnny come lately to this issue. However, the idea that HSR will add anything in economic development for Spfld or the rest of Illinois is a farce. This version of HSR will only cut 30-60 minutes off of the commute between STL and CHI. If there are scads of potential tourists waiting for HSR to visit the Lincoln sites but only if the trip will be cut from 3.5 hours to 3 hours, I’d be amazed.

    Also, the 1600′ long overpassess needed for the project to be on the 3rd St. cooridor will stifle business in Downtown Spfld, completely disrupt the good things that are happening in the Med Dist and literally bury the Dana Thomas House.

    The move to the 10th St corridor has been discussed openly for at least the past 6 years, perhaps longer. The mass transit dist has been seeking funding for an intermodal facility for years and city planners have been focused on 10th st as the HSR/Freight corridor as well.

    UP doesn’t own those tracks and wants complete control of the HSR issue in Illinois so that the $8B is spent on improving their tracks. The HSR issue is secondary to UP’s plans. Without the $8B, UP would not be in the HSR game at all.

  22. - larry - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:42 am:


    40 trains a day is the conservative estimate of train volume thru Springfield’s downtown, historic district as well as the medical district. For evidence of this please consider some light reading:

    The aldemerman has not done enough research prior to his press release.

    The locals plan to consolidate on the 10th street line will actually provide greater access than exists today between the east and west side. They will be able to provide additional underpasses and possibly eliminate all at grade rail crossings in Springfield if done correctly.

  23. - Scott - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:45 am:

    There are plenty of existing tracks already around Springfield (check out Google Maps and/or Some have been “abandoned”, but the railroad still owns them and could bring them back in service faster than going through the process (aka Eminent Domain) of acquiring land to expand the 3rd or 10th Street tracks.

    But the idea of running around Springfield is not bad. It would be easier to acquire the land from undeveloped or farm property than through developed areas with housing. UP can build the tracks just the way they want, no compromises with any existing infrastructure. The new “transportation hub” that Springfield envisions could be put in the same area as the airport, with lots of undeveloped land for the hub and a big parking lot. Neither downtown nor the east side are affected. The west side continues to expand because it now has access to a transportation hub.

    Rough guess, 20 miles of new track plus crossings. Easier to build below grade if you want. Versus new track through town, plus 9 multi-million dollar overpasses. I believe, in both time and expenses, the outlier route is quicker, easier and cheaper to build.

  24. - Lee - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:52 am:

    Not putting the station within walking distance of downtown is just really poor planning. And putting the station at an airport would just be lunacy. There is a reason all great train stations of the 19th and 20th century were located in downtowns. When people get off of a train, they become pedestrians, and they need places to walk. The only reason airports aren’t downtown is that they take up way too much space and can’t have tall buildings nearby. But trains can easily go through downtown and they should — the benefits are much greater than any negative impact. Airports and train stations are totally different animals, and it’s lazy planning to lump them together just because it looks neater on paper.

    Now freight traffic is a different matter.

  25. - train111 - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:52 am:


    Again–that’s the maximum capacity of the line as proposed. Whether or not Union Pacific or Amtrak will actually route that many trains on that line is a different story all together. Given todays market conditions, the idea of 40 more trains is laughable. Keep in mind UP’s plans are for international traffic going to the new terminal at Joliet. At this present time the Panama Canal is being enlargened to allow the largest container ships to pass through which would mean containers for the east coast would not have to be offloaded on the west coast and hauled across the country by train. That could have a very detrimental effect on the same business that UP is planning to put on that corridor.

    Again, the 40 trains per day is a capacity figure, but politicians and the media run with it like there will be that many trains on that route tommorrow!!


  26. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:53 am:

    I’m pretty sure train111 is right. That’s capacity, not an actual solid plan.

    If anyone has any evidence to the contrary that this 40 trains a day will happen, feel free to show me. Otherwise, enough of that stuff.

    Final warning. Deletions will follow.

  27. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:54 am:

    I think 9 giant overpasses would be a great economic development plan — for Decatur
    Nothing else in SPI is “hi speed” why start now?

  28. - Distant Observer - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:56 am:

    That line used to be double tracked most of the way from Chicago to St. Louis, back when the GM&O owned the line & they used to run 10 or so trains a day, each way. They ripped out the 2nd line in the 70s or 80s (don’t remember now), but it used to run right down 3rd St. Back then, downtown was busy & vibrant & had a heck of a lot more trains. That all said, there are no pure motives on this one, either from the politicians or the UP.

  29. - SilverBack - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:57 am:

    Increased used will probably require more parking lot area also. Free parking would really be a plus for travelers and cost of lot should be much less expensive away from the center of city.

  30. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:04 am:

    100 years from now when hi-speed trains are bypassing Springfield or the edge-of-town drop off has spurred even more growth away from downtown, people will be writing letters to the editor wondering why they didn’t build it downtown to support rather than erode the city center.
    That said, I agree with the above post that shaving 30 min off the trip aint gonna bring throngs of people to Springfield. You could simple raise the speed limit on the interstate to accomplish that a lot cheaper.

  31. - Excessively Rabid - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:07 am:

    The alderman said: “Even with adding a second track, you have a potential bottleneck of the railway lines just from having to slow down within the city limits,” Theilen wrote. “By adding a switchback at both ends of town to allow passenger trains to continue through, you would alleviate both the bottleneck and the dramatic alternation of our city.” I think this means freight trains, and passenger trains that don’t stop in Springfield, would use tracks bypassing the city. Passenger trains that stop in Springfield would apparently be switched to the existing tracks and use the existing station.

  32. - Lee - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:08 am:

    SilverBack — Moving a train station to where nobody could possibly walk, just so you can provide free parking? It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Then of course people will have to drive and park, because they’re too far from downtown. Please remember that visitors to Springfield will not be traveling on the train with a car. And locals who want to drive their car to the train station could just park further away and take a cab, just like you’re expecting people who live downtown and visitors to take a cab to access an out-of-town station.

  33. - Lee - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:12 am:

    Maybe they should make special high-speed trains that can fit our cars so we can take them with us. Then once they’ve unloaded my car, I’ll be able to drive to downtown!

  34. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:24 am:

    I’ll believe high-speed rail when I see it. It was supposedly a done-deal in the Midwest 30 years ago.

  35. - Bluefish - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:29 am:

    Lee - they actually run such a service (not HSR though) on the east coast from Virginia to Florida. It beats driving I-95 the whole way. I don’t really see a Chicago to Springfield market for it. Plus, you need specialized stations to handle the loading/unloading of cars.

  36. - Ken in Aurora - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:29 am:

    I still think the best solution is to develop the 10th Street corridor and build a light rail link between the new station and downtown. Additional tourist parking could be located by the new station that would allow visitors to utilize the light rail link to reach downtown.

    As a fan of the former GM&O I’d hate to see the historic trackage die, but progress is progress…

  37. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:31 am:

    Lets pretend this is a good idea!
    Now, where should this great idea be put?

    Downtown? The HSR will be a huge physical barrier cutting directly through the middle of Springfield’s historic downtown. It would tower over the historic Dana Thomas house, drowning it in shadows half the day. It would be an insurmountable wall forcing traffic into those east-west streets with overpasses. It will be an eyesore for generations to come until it would be finally removed.

    Tenth Street? This track will preserve Historic Downtown. But it cuts off East Springfield from the rest of town. What is lost then? People on foot who would have to walk around this massive wall of ugly in order to find the viaducts on South Grand Avenue and Stanford. But, it would actually cause less disruption and destruction than a Third Street route.

    Now - back to reality. High Speed Rail is a freakin’ joke, and this is coming from a guy who rode trains nearly everyday in Chicago and in Europe. If there was a demand here - Amtrak would be seeing it. There is no market for this. Building it would cost taxpayer money, because no responsible business would take such a stupid gamble on something this Disneyesque.

    Trains went over 100 miles per hour - sixty years ago! That didn’t cause them to lose business, did it? What is considered HSR today is little more than a modern version of an outdated idea. It is a total waste of money - YOUR MONEY.

    You see, we have two generations of supposedly enlightened citizenry who admire everything going on in Europe. They do not take in consideration the reality of countries the size of our states, cities and counties. They do not take into consideration the supremely high taxes robbing everyone in those little countries to support mass transit systems, including HSR. When you pay premium costs for HSR in most European countries - you are paying that on top of the massive taxes you already are paying for mass transit. The costs of HSR cannot be met in a free market.

    So if this ugly wall goes up in Springfield, dividing the city whichever way it ends up dividing it - this thing won’t fly. We’ll end up with a cross-version of the Great Wall of China and the Abraham Lincoln Capitol Airport, and empty boondoggle sucking at the teats of our wallets and our children’s wallets, and our grandchildren’s wallets, until we finally get fed up with it in fifty years and rip it down.

    Then we’ll spend trillions fixing the damage to downtown Springfield - if we have any cash left, that is.

  38. - Dan S, a voter and Cubs Fan - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:37 am:

    This issue is really about Union Pacific and their new hub in Joliet. The “high -speed” rail is just a way to get stimlous money to pay for the upgrades. The 10rth Street plan with the over/under passes that would be created will accually open up rather then close traffic going east and west. This is the best plan for traffic flow and emergency services.

  39. - Segatari - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:38 am:

    You support NINE overpasses along Third Street and the middle of downtown? You really think that will enhance the appearance of the Dana-Thomas House? You MUST be joking!

  40. - Cogito - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:41 am:

    This is not a high speed rail project, it is looking more-and-more like a freight project to serve UP’s new facility outside of Joliet. The IDOT proposal to the feds is for two tracks, not the existing one track. Check out the proposal on IDOT’s website. The regional planning commission here has done a good bit of analysis on the issue, and it can be found on their website:

    A movement of the rail corridors in Springfield was studied in the late ’70s, and didn’t happen because of the cost, the environmental issues (mostly floodplain), and difficulties related to how the corridor would run in the area of Lake Springfield and the powerplant. And that was in the ’70s when there were fewer environmental regulations and passenger trains were not even in the mix. Springfield did a rail consolidation study in 2005 that recommended the consolidation of all three corridors to the Tenth St. one. IDOT knew about that study because they funded it.

    As to the 40-60 train number. That originally came from the regional planning group and they even did a paper explaining how they came to that number, which is on their website. They needed a number for impact analysis, and since neither UP nor IDOT was willing to offer a number, they worked with current numbers to arrive at a conclusion. Now even UP is using that number in its correspondence to the locals, not as capacity , so its probably more than that. Looks like the planning folks estimate was pretty good.

    UP recently said that they anticipate 22 new freights using the corridor due to their new intermodal facility (see State Journal-Register story on the facility). Plus the 18 trains mentioned in the MOU between UP and IDOT (16 high speed train trips per day plus the two Texas Eagle trains), if any of the current 10 Amtrak train trips remain, do the math.

    The real question is, how could the state enter into an agreement with one railroad in March (not having talked with any other railroads), using a 7 year old environmental impact statement that only considered one rail line, fewer passenger trains and no additional freight trains, and only tell the locals in late May, then tell them that their opinion didn’t matter because it was too late to make changes in the plan, and not expect some blow-back?

  41. - JMO - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:47 am:

    Just what are the current #’s for people getting on or off the train in Springfield? How many of those are just coming to visit Lincoln sites?

  42. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:50 am:

    Segatari, did I say it would “enhance the appearance” of the DT house?

    Try arguing with me based on what I said. Not on some goofy straw man.

  43. - Anonymous45 - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:50 am:

    TOD is short for transit oriented design…putting the train station near the airport would not only encourage sprawl, but it’ll be a long walk for folks…seriously, the station would spur infill development downtown…the infrastructure costs (utility lines) would be astronomical to build at the airport location…taxis/hybrid diesel buses would have to take folks from the airport to downtown adding 30 minutes to the commute…there goes the time gained from HSR…besides, people who get off/on the train will be frequenting nearby businesses…spurring economic development/jobs…

  44. - Thomas Westgard - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 11:54 am:

    Locating major transportation corridors is always a touchy issue, but it seems like trains get the worst of it and the naysayers don’t seem to be proposing a substantial alternative. Is there anything to this that wouldn’t equally well apply to a highway? Given the efficiencies of railway transportation, Springfield would be better served if you converted I-72 into a railway corridor and put lots for Zipcar and iGo at the exits.

  45. - Taylor - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 12:12 pm:

    The proposed plan for the Third Street rail corridor will create hideous overpasses that would scar the central city, destroy any hope of reviving downtown, and isolate neighborhoods. Do I think moving traffic to Tenth Street is a better idea? Yes. Long-established traffic patterns already focus on east-west travel facilitated by over/underpasses at Cook, South Grand, and Clear Lake. Many east-side streets were long ago closed for safety at the Tenth Street tracks. And there is less residential development along the Tenth Street rail line than along Third Street.

  46. - Gregor - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 12:46 pm:

    The pundits theorize this is all a poison pill by the Union Pacific to make HSR go away, so they can keep doing what they like; freight.

    That Joliet yard is going to feed a lot of new traffic our way eventually… I’ve read where 40% of the cars and car parts for and from Detroit will come thru that yard and thru the corridor in Springfield. Once the economy picks up, heck yes, we could see a large number of freights at all hours.

    Everyone loves the passenger trains coming right downtown to revitalize the city core with tourists and convention-goers and even Chicago and STL commuters/shoppers. We just want the freight on a by-pass line, but UP doesn’t own the 10th street tracks, nor the far west tracks by the airport, so quite understandably it is not interested in the additional costs and the need to coordinate with other railroads.

    Springfield could have solved this a long time ago, studies and plans have creeped along since the 70’s but it was always easier to procrastinate and defer a decision rather than risk the ire of anti-tax repubs and their constituents that dominated during those years. The dems in charge now are a very timid lot indeed, and I don’t expect them to fix it either. Now it will be way more expensive to fix this for good. Third street contains the major part of the city sewer system, ripping out and relocating that to make a sub-grade train tunnel thru town would cost billion and years.

    Most likely Springfield government will return to type and just let the clock run out on the free money rather than actually commit to something big. There are no visionaries in this city, nobody that cares what happens after they personally are gone.

    If Davlin lets UP go ahead with 3rd street, he’s done in Springfield, politically.

  47. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 12:49 pm:

    Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just move the Dana-Thomas House? Put it on the outskirts of town so those going by on the high speed rail bypass can see it without getting off the train. Problem solved.

  48. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 12:55 pm:

    Rich, if you haven’t read it, you should hop over to the Regional Planning Commission’s Website and read their study of the Third Street option, particularly the detailed analysis of the proposed overpasses. If people think they foul up the Dana-Thomas House, you should see what they do to one of Springfield’s top sales tax generators and a major downtown success story-Isringhausen Imports. Their two city blocks of showrooms and service facilities become essentially inaccessible, with only one entrance from the south off Washington and no entrance to the north. Ridiculous, as is the alderman’s idea.
    It has no technical merit and little feasibility and will die a quick death.

  49. - Segatari - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 1:21 pm:

    Ahem, Rich…that is UP’s proposal on where the overpasses would be built - one one Lawrence right behind the Dana-Thomas House. Building those nine overpasses may provide jobs in the short-term but you haven’t weighed any of the unintended consequences of doing so. Tenth Street doesn’t require as many to build and is not as disruptive as Third Street would be.

  50. - downstate hick - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 1:27 pm:

    I’m pretty sure train111 is right. That’s capacity, not an actual solid plan.

    If anyone has any evidence to the contrary that this 40 trains a day will happen, feel free to show me. Otherwise, enough of that stuff.

    Final warning. Deletions will follow.

    From the SJR,
    During a Sept. 9 meeting of the Illinois Commerce Commission, a Union Pacific vice president said the railroad foresees 22 freight trains and 18 passenger trains per day by 2017, putting the total at 40.

    I think this indicates a plan, not just capacity

  51. - KeepSmiling - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 1:30 pm:

    The conversation seems strangely focused on critics arguing why 10th Street would be better, rather than pointing to how the plan for 3rd Street could be improved for the best overall outcome.

    I’ve not been following this too closely, but maybe all seven overpasses aren’t needed. A lot more work will be undertaken and the plan will be refined. Couldn’t a vehicle overpass (later) be eliminated from the plan, the street ends terminated into plazas, and a pedestrian/bike overpass designed to connect the plazas, instead? Maybe there are some architecturally interesting things that could be done with the vehicle overpasses that are built, too. (Taylor, you made me chuckle. Why are “hideous” overpasses the only overpasses to consider?)

  52. - train111 - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 2:03 pm:

    40% of Detroit auto parts going through Springfield–

    Please please stop.

    The UP is going to set up Global 4 as a new container port south of Joliet. They will still have Global 1, Global 2,Global 3, and Yard Center (Canal Street behind Comsikey Park is slated to close) as Chicago container terminals as well. There is right now between 23 and 30 trains a day to all those terminals combined. Now when they build a new terminal do people think they are going to divert each and every train to that one place. Where does UP get the rest?? Are they supposed to pull trainloads of traffic out of thin air?? The traffic simply doesn’t exist at this time to come up with 40 trains no matter what any politician or rabid neighborhood opponent may say.

    Say it with me slowly. UP presently has between 23 and 30 trains of traffic to all of their 5 intermodal terminals in the Chicago area. There is no way that opening up a new terminal south of Joilet will lead to 40 trains per day additional traffic when that traffic simply doesn’t exist.

    UP has clearly spelled out their plans as to which traffic is to be shifted to Global 4

    Come on–you guys have been looking at railfan and railroad employee rumor postings way too long.


  53. - train111 - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 2:05 pm:

    An addition:

    Sure UP stands to benefit from any public money poured into the Chicago-StLouis line. They benefitted when Metra put in that 3rd track between Geneva and Elburn when they expanded service too.


  54. - SangamoGOP - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 2:23 pm:

    train111: Michael Payette, assistant VP for UP, upon leaving the ICC meeting on 9/8/09, from the SJR, not from a politician or rabid neighborhood opponent:

    “As he left Wednesday’s hearing, Payette reiterated that the 2008 track upgrades played no role in the railroad’s current wish to install a parallel track through Springfield and build overpasses to allow 22 freight trains and 18 passenger trains per day to travel through the city by 2017.”

    Go ahead. You can read it as slowly as you want.

    The link:

  55. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 2:27 pm:


    The addition of the second track requires a federal Environmental Assessment (sort of like an appendage to the approved Environmental Impact Statement of 2003, but in this case being done as a separate report). Before the EA can be approved, they will need to have a public process including hearing(s) and commentary from the public, the affected governments, and federal/state resource agencies. I guarantee this public outcry has put a serious unplanned monkey wrench into the high speed rail plans, considering the federal ARRA money deadlines.

    The study of the alternative corridor, if extremely fast tracked, could take 18 months in this environment (not counting potential lawsuits that could tie the project up for years if not thrown out of court or settled quickly).

    Also, no one is saying there “have” to be overpasses on the 3rd street corridor. The HSR trains are going to slow down to access the depot anyway. 40 trains a day? Even if it happens, there are many neigborhoods around Chicago that would love to have a *reduction* to 40 trains a day at their favorite RR crossing.

    Bet the folks along the EJ&E line are hopping mad when they see the $$$ flung around for overpasses in Springfield on this project, when they might get 2 along the entire EJ&E line as a result of the CN acquisition.

  56. - Anon - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 2:29 pm:

    I believe the alderman’s plan is to run freight around the city and passenger trains through it. At least that is how I read it.

  57. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 2:35 pm:

    Also FWIW:

    The only reason the Environmental Assessment is required for the second track is because federal monies are being sought. UP could do it on their own dime without much red tape.

  58. - Capitol View - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 2:38 pm:

    some random thoughts, from someone with an office just off of 3rd street –

    There used to be two tracks on 3rd street, but when Willard Ice’s wife drove over the tracks while the gates were still down after the train had gone through — and was hit broadside by another train headed in the other direction, killing Willard — this is when the second track was taken out.

    Why is UP so married to the 3rd street option? Because they own most of the trackage. B&O own a good section of the 10th street tracks, so UP would have to pay rent for their increased volume. It’s all about money, folks. Not Springfield’s best interest.

    Reminder: Environmental Impact Assessments began because our IDOT destroyed downtown East St. Louis in the process of putting up the I-55 bridge. Let’s not let Springfield be another IDOT victim.

  59. - ahoy - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 2:44 pm:

    Well in some places UP could put in a second track, if they own the right of way but their not putting up their own money so what is your point?

    Also, the 40 - 60 extra trains a day was given verbally by UP officials to city and county officials. I do not think UP put it in writing so there is probably not evidence. I could be wrong though.

  60. - Larry Mullholland - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 2:46 pm:


    40 train minimum has been well documented. If anyone cares enough to look around you will see the proof. Perhaps and energetic reporter could help us correct the record on the blog today.
    Additionally, I agree with Six Degrees about environmental impact issues and the giant monkey wrench being created. It could derail the entire project.

    For further info I refer Rich and others to Public Act 09-0545 that calls for early, ongoing and collaborative outreach with local community leaders and affected citizens impacted by IDOT projects. The public act requires projects to exist in harmony with their surroundings. It also calls for reasonable alternatives to be considered.

    Clearly, IDOT has this on this project.

  61. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 2:57 pm:

    Well in some places UP could put in a second track, if they own the right of way but their not putting up their own money so what is your point?

    Unless they or their predecessors sold off some of the old Alton route right of way, UP have enough room to restore the original double track that existed along the entire route.

    The point is that the federal $ is both a blessing and a curse to UP’s plans. A blessing because it’s less $ than they will have to spend, a curse because the whold deal could go up in smoke if certain dominoes start to fall.

  62. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 3:00 pm:

    - Ahem, Rich…that is UP’s proposal on where the overpasses would be built - one one Lawrence right behind the Dana-Thomas House. -

    I forgot the view from Lawrence behind the DTH was so beautiful currently.

  63. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 3:04 pm:

    The more I read about this track issue, the more I sense the work of a diabolical hand: Hedy Lamarr (that’s Hedley).

    Watch out if Taggart pulls a #6 on Third Street.

  64. - Anonymous45 - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 3:15 pm:

    BEWARE:If you have never negotiated with a railroad company, from personal experience I can tell you that they don’t give a damn, and if you don’t take a 2×4 in the negotiating room, you may as well not be there…if John Q. Public and community leaders don’t educate thenselves and step up, they’ll do whatever they please…

  65. - Honest Abe - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 3:19 pm:

    =The more I read about this track issue, the more I sense the work of a diabolical hand: Hedy Lamarr (that’s Hedley)=

    Maybe we need a new sheriff to figure this out. LOL

  66. - ahoy - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 3:47 pm:

    Six Degree’s,

    UP does not own enough R-O-W to double track through Springfield. You might be right about the rest of the route.

    Also, there are a lot of legal issues here that are not being discussed and are pretty complicated.

  67. - Ken in Aurora - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 4:09 pm:

    ahoy, the C&A was doubletracked along 3rd Street through Springfield until the 1960s - I’m sure the R-O-W is still intact. It was part of a single tracking project that started in Southern IL and worked its way north to Mazonia over several years.

    The single tracking was typical of the 1960s and 1970s, when railroads tore out what they saw as excess capacity to save on maintenance and taxes and gain some scrap value. This proved to be very short sighted - many railroads that single tracked back then have had to go back and relay a second track in the 1990s and 2000s.

    It must have been a bunch of MBA’s that made the decisions back then. ;0>

  68. - RJW - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 5:08 pm:

    I’ve lived in Springfield for 12 years and have found that, most of the time, the citizens of Springfield are idiots when it comes to the development of the city. If the city had had half a brain to begin with, the overpasses and/or underpasses wouldn’t be an issue b/c they would already be built. Never before in my life have I lived in a place claiming to be a “major” city that has railroad tracks blocking traffic on majory city thoroughfares. The city needs to have a city planner that is constantly working on the needs of the city. As far as the citizens who constantly play the NIMBY game, go away already. If you don’t like living in the core of the city then move.

  69. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 5:38 pm:

    Reminder: Environmental Impact Assessments began because our IDOT destroyed downtown East St. Louis in the process of putting up the I-55 bridge. Let’s not let Springfield be another IDOT victim.

    No, Environmental Assessments are a direct result of Congress signing the National Environmental Protection Act of 1969 (NEPA). There were many case studies similar to the ESL project where projects were done without full disclosure and study of impacts, and minimal public participation, such as in Miami, Massachusetts, and even the original expressway system in Chicago (although the Cook County crew did a better job than most). Environmental law and policy have evolved a lot since then, mostly with more regulation and required processes, with a little streamlining thrown in.

    The system has evolved to where sharp attorneys can successfully delay (but not stop) projects and gain concessions from the authorities, and every once in a while stop a project due to political pressure or finding an egregious omission in a study. NEPA documents are meant for the lawyers as well as the public.

  70. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 6:11 pm:

    I was a fly on the wall at a recent meeting in Chicago with Mayor Davlin, Senator Durbin, Secretary Hannig and honchos from UP. I won’t pretend to have been a participant, but here are a couple of unsolicited observations on this subject:

    1. This thread is a better debate of the issues than the meeting in Chicago and just as unproductive.

    2. This isn’t about high speed rail, it is about faster Amtrak. Grade crossings are the issue here. Could this eventually lead to HSR? Maybe, but that’s far into the future.

    3. Not to bash Springfield, but there are no good reasons for Chicago-area residents to visit except for the Capitol, the Fair and the Lincoln sites. You will keep the station downtown because that is the only place it can be if you expect anyone to debark when the conducter calls out Next Stop Springfield.

    4. This argument and the planning debate should have occurred years ago and shame on the officials who weren’t planning for this eventuality. They waited until the deadline for stimulus funding and it is way too late now.

    5. UP is not the bad guy here. They own the ROW. They have 19th century laws protecting their business. Don’t like it? Change the law (and good luck with that).

    6. A couple of hundred Springfield residents, kept painfully in the dark by lots of officials, have just learned how this will affect them and they are rightfully upset and concerned. Shame on public officials for keeping them out of the long range planning that has been underway for some time.

    7. A handful of NIMBYs should not stand in the way of this project, as terrible as it has been portrayed. This needs to happen. Now. Or those same NIMBYs will be stuck in a dying town, in a dying state, in a dying region.

    8. It’s time to step up Mayor Davlin. This is why we elect mayors: to make tough decisions for the good of the community (I know TII, but elections are not simply popularity contests, they have consequences).

  71. - Abe - Wednesday, Sep 23, 09 @ 10:19 pm:

    rather than spend a bunch of money to upgrade and retrofit the tracks thru springfield, why not run rail along the I-55 corridor? it would minimize the need for over- and underpasses. property could be taken thru eminent domain. shuttles could run between a station and downtown. and all those agitated residents of springfield could go back to sleep and rich could enjoy his quiet little life.

  72. - Cranky Old Man - Thursday, Sep 24, 09 @ 3:35 am:

    Small Town Liberal, ===I forgot the view from Lawrence behind the DTH was so beautiful currently. === I agree the the view behind the DT House ain’t exactly great, but where the problems lies is with the overpass that will run on Lawrence. There will be no way to get a photo of the front of the house except from the sidewalk. Anything taken from across the street wil be the side of the overpass.

  73. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 24, 09 @ 8:06 am:

    ===There will be no way to get a photo of the front of the house except from the sidewalk====

    So, let’s stop a multi-billion project and high-speed rail because somebody can’t take a photo the way they want to?

  74. - Larry Mullholland - Thursday, Sep 24, 09 @ 9:45 am:

    Rich Miller,

    ===So, let’s stop a multi-billion project and high-speed rail because somebody can’t take a photo the way they want to? ===

    They don’t want it “stopped”. They want to do it correctly as has been reported dozens of times.

    A consolidated 10th street corridor will cost less money, eliminate two rail lines (19th and 3rd) to create trails.

    Additionally Rich & Trian111 agree === I’m pretty sure train111 is right. That’s capacity, not an actual solid plan.===

    I think the posters have clarified this point 40 in the PLANNED minimum volume of train traffic. The upper capacity of the double mainline track is actually over 70 trains per day.

    With a 10th consolidation you will not have to create destructive traffic delays or destructive overpasses. A 10th St. consolidation will protect the medical district while efecting less homes.

    Rich, is it too much to ask IDOT & Gov Quinn to use our own tax dollars to improve & protect our job base of our community rather doing harm?

    I think not!

  75. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 24, 09 @ 10:33 am:

    Railroads can do pretty much what they want, can’t they? I’ve come across that before.

    And their power does stem back to the laws from the old robber baron days, correct?

  76. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Sep 24, 09 @ 10:40 am:

    Railroads can do pretty much what they want, can’t they?

    Yes, if they are using their own money on their own property. Not so much where federal dollars are involved.

  77. - Cranky Old Man - Thursday, Sep 24, 09 @ 2:58 pm:

    Rich, I’m not saying stop it, but that really does need to be considered. I’ve worked there and photos are HUGE to the visitors. They aren’t allowed to take any inside so the outside should be considered. Many people come to Spfld just to see the house. Lincoln is secondary in their minds. Also, I don’t know what type of vibrations will be generated, but there are millions of dollars of lamps, windows, etc. in the house. (Of course, that is based on the antique market of the day.)

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