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Uptown Station walkway plan approved

Submitted Photo: Plans to build a new walkway at Uptown Station have been approved. As seen in the above sketch, the walkway will allow pedestrians to walk over the railroad tracks safely.

Submitted Photo:
Plans to build a new walkway at Uptown Station have been approved. As seen in the above sketch, the walkway will allow pedestrians to walk over the railroad tracks safely.

The proposed design plan for an overhead walkway at Uptown Station was approved at the Normal Town Council meeting on Monday.

The walkway will be used for pedestrians to safely cross the tracks within the Uptown Station.

Town Planner Mercy Davison said talk of building this crossing started when the Uptown Station was being built back in 2011.

According to the Pantagraph, the walkway will be built of mostly glass and brick and made to look similar to the Uptown Station. It is expected to be about 30 feet high and cost around $7 million for completion.

In order for the construction to begin, several agencies must approve the walkway as well, Davison said.

The agencies include The Union Pacific Railroad, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Amtrak and the Federal Railway Administration.

If all the agencies agree, construction could start late this summer, but Davison said it is unlikely that the approval will come that quickly.

Director of Public Works Wayne Aldrich said there are several stages for approval from these agencies for the walkway.

The agencies have approved the 30 percent plan, and the next step is to await approval for the 90 percent plan which the town has recently completed.

Once the construction starts, it is expected to take about 10 months to complete.

When all agencies agree, the walkway will go out for bids from companies to start construction, Davison said.

“The reason for [the walkway] is there is going to be an increasing number of trains coming through,” Davison said.

Right now, most freight trains use the south tracks or the “mainline” tracks, Aldrich said. The Amtrak trains switch from the mainline tracks to the north tracks so people can board.

Currently, the only place to board the trains is at Uptown Station on the north tracks.

“The overpass project helps so two trains can be loaded at the same time,” Aldrich said. Once the walkway is built, trains could be going different directions at the same time and people could board at the new south platform that is being built with this project, he said.

The old Amtrak station is going to be used as another waiting area for train passengers who are boarding trains on the south tracks.

Aldrich said he thinks most northbound trains will be on the south tracks, where people would board at the old Amtrak station.

“So if you know you’re going to Chicago you can just go to the South station and wait for your train,”Aldrich said. The old station will be renovated as well.

“The interior will be updated and cleaned and the ticketing and luggage area will be taken out,” Davison said.

There will be restrooms, Quik-Trak Kiosks that sell and print online atickets, TV monitors and Passenger Information Display Systems, or PIDS, that have train schedules, Aldrich said.

It is yet to be determined if it will be staffed, he added.

Most of this project is paid for by the Illinois Department of Transportation with the high-speed rail project in mind, Aldrich said.

Without the high-speed rail coming in the future, this overpass project probably would not be happening, he added.

The high-speed trains are expected to be in place by 2016.

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