Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Normal Illinois’

Normal to Buy Vehicle to Transport Passengers at Station

July 7, 2017

The Normal, Illinois, city council has approved the purchase of an electric vehicle to shuttle Amtrak passengers between the station and a platform that is currently under construction.

The vehicle, which will cost $26,000, will be used to transport passengers with disabilities or limited mobility.

However, the platform that the vehicle will serve isn’t expected to open for service until late October or early November.

City Manager Mark Peterson said the vehicle needed to be ordered now because it will be three months before it is delivered.

The vehicle will transport passengers to and from the south platform from the station via the Broadway Avenue or Linden Street crossings.

The vehicle will be operated by Amtrak employees and Peterson said Amtrak asked the city to buy the vehicle.

When some council members questioned why the city would spend its funds for the vehicle, Peterson said, “Amtrak has a very inflexible budget.”

He said Amtrak doesn’t pay rent at the station, although it does pay for its use of utilities, and city officials consider that a reasonable cost of having the service.

“We see other uses in the uptown area if the Amtrak use goes away,” said Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich.

The $2.5 million new platform is being funded by federal money as part of a high-speed rail project that is wrapping up this year.

Normal is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

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Normal Close to Decision on Crossing at Station

June 19, 2017

The planning staff of the City of Normal has recommended building a underpass at the site of the Amtrak station.

Materials prepared for a June 19 meeting of the city council said that the underpass would have a park with it.

The council will vote at the meeting on which option for a railroad crossing will be studied by a consultant and thus given favorability.

Normal’s 2014 Uptown 2.0 plan recommended the underpass and estimated its cost at $12.7 million. The plan said an overpass would cost $8.6 million.

The consultant, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, has narrowed the options to an overpass for Amtrak passengers only; two varieties of public overpasses; and three varieties of public underpasses

Adding a park to the underpass would be the most expensive option, but it was also preferred by many who spoke at an April 27 hearing or who submitted written comments.

“Out of the 41 public comments received, 29 strongly supported the underpass (with park),” said Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich in a memo.

The consultant has already ruled out an at-grade crossing.

The voted in early 2015 to postpone plans for an overpass, which had been designed and funded, and instead research an underpass.

Normal is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle.

Illinois Amtrak Ridership Fell in FY 2016

January 12, 2017

Amtrak ridership in Illinois fell by 3.5 percent in fiscal year 2016. Recent figures released by state transportation officials show that more than 4.6 million rode on Amtrak trains in the state.

IllinoisNot surprisingly, Chicago topped the list of the busiest Amtrak stations in Illinois.

Most of the cities on that list are college towns. Behind Chicago the busiest Amtrak stations were Normal-Bloomington, Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, Carbondale, Galesburg and Macomb.

All of those cities also have multiple Amtrak frequencies per day.

Systemwide, Amtrak carried more than 31 million people in FY 2016, an increase of 2 percent over the previous year.

Normal Amtrak Station Platform Improvements Expected to be Completed by This Summer

January 6, 2017

A project to improve the Amtrak platform at the station in Normal, Illinois, is expected to be completed by this summer.

Amtrak 4The Normal City Council recently approved spending $40,000 for the project and will be reimbursed by a federal grant.

Amtrak has two platforms in Normal and the improvement project is focused on the south platform.

The work will include installing a fence to prevent passengers from crossing the tracks between the platforms. Instead, they will need to walk to Broadway Avenue to cross the rails, which are owned by Union Pacific.

A cable car system will be installed to assist disabled or elderly passengers.

The Normal station, which also served neighboring Bloomington, is a stop for Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Normal May Pay for Underpass Study

October 3, 2016

The City of Normal, Illinois, may fund a $1.4 million study of the feasibility of building a pedestrian underpass under tracks used by Amtrak in that central Illinois community located on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor.

300px-Lincoln_Service_map.svgThe underpass would cost an estimated $10 million. The city was poised to begin a $6.3 million overpass two years but halted that project when members of the city council sought more research.

If the underpass study is approved, it would be finished by Oct. 15, 2018. The study is expected to determine how much an underpass would cost and what engineering issues might arise.

The underpass would connect the area of Uptown Circle to land south of the railroad tracks, which the city hopes will improve access and promote redevelopment south of the tracks. The study will be conducted by consulting firm WSP Parsons Brickerhoff.

In the meantime, Normal plans to construct a temporary at-grade crossing at the Amtrak station, which is being expanded.

City officials said construction of a boarding platform and other improvements are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Track Work to Close Normal Streets, Work Expected to Begin on Second Platform

May 6, 2016

Track work on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor will close a major intersection in Normal, Illinois, while construction also is expected to get underway soon on the installation of a second platform at the Amtrak station in that city.

The track work is connected with the ongoing project to upgrade the route used by Lincoln Service trains and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle for higher speed service.

City officials said that several crossings will be closed on a rolling basis to perform work that is expected to result in Amtrak trains being able to travel at speeds of up to 110 mph through Bloomington-Normal.

The first of those crossings to be closed is University at Beaufort streets, which is near the Illinois State University campus.

City Manager Mark Peterson said the crossing will be closed for three weeks and given new safety equipment.

300px-Lincoln_Service_map.svg“Starting in late June, they’ll be going through the community doing intersections [one at a time],” Peterson said. “It’ll be a traffic disruption, no doubt about it, in the late summer probably going into the fall.”

The high-speed service through the twin cities is expected to begin in 2017.

Peterson said the second platform construction work would begin in late May or early June.

The station work will cost $2.5 million. The platform won’t be placed into service until a temporary grade crossing is completed to connect the new platform with the station.

The new platform is being built on the south side of the tracks while the station is on the north side.

Peterson said that the platform-to-station crossing project will cost up to $1 million and is awaiting approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation and Union Pacific Railroad.

“We’ve done everything we can do,” he said. “It will probably (start construction) late summer or early fall” and be open by spring 2017.

Eventually, city officials expect to replace the temporary crossing with an underpass that is expected to cost $11 million and enable pedestrians to move between the area north of the station to the Uptown South district. That underpass could cost up to $11 million.

City workers are still putting together a request for proposals for a two-year feasibility study that must be completed for the underpass project.