The Normal Town Council approved an engineering study that will examine the proposed underpass at Uptown Station more closely. The study will cost the town over $1.4 million and take about two years. City Manager Mark Peterson said people will be able to be actively involved in the study.
"It will be a very public, dynamic process," he said. "There will be opportunities throughout the study to provide input, there will be opportunities for the community to provide input, [and], obviously, the town will be providing input in its ideas to the team."
While the study is taking place, Normal will also begin to look at funding sources such as federal dollars from the Department of Transportation. Peterson said the town went through a similar process with Uptown Station, which houses the Council Chambers, City Hall, and other Normal offices.
"It took 10 years to find funding for this facility," he said. "We certainly hope that it won't take that long for an underpass, but it's not something that happens overnight."
Once the first study is complete, a second, year-long study will take place to finalize the proposal. Peterson said the underpass could be complete within five years.
The proposed underpass is a result of the Illinois High-Speed Rail project, slated to be finished next year, which requires Normal to have a fully-functional second platform and find a way to allow passengers to cross the tracks safely.
One solution, a temporary at-grade crossing at the station, was scrapped after railroad officials wouldn't allow it to move forward. Passengers will temporarily use the Broadway Avenue crossing instead. Peterson said the town will work on finding a way to accommodate people with limited mobility.
"We may actually have to lease some motorized carts, like golf carts or something, to help people with mobility issues to get over there," he said. "Because it is a pretty long hike."
Peterson said, based on the most recent information, trains will use the second platform about ten percent of the time. However, the town doesn't have the option to opt out of building and using the platform.