|Section of Constitution Trail closing for safety purposes|
|Written by Jenny Jackowski, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Thursday, 26 January 2012 14:14|
The area of Constitution Trail between the Children’s Discovery Museum and Uptown Station will be closing for safety purposes, Joe Tulley, Uptown marketing manager, explained.
“It’s largely a safety concern. The railroad does not want crossings at grade,” Tulley said.
That area of the trail will not be reopened, but rather, a permanent detour will be put in place.
“It really does have to do with the increased rail traffic that they’re anticipating through here,” Wayne Aldrich, director for Uptown development, said
The long-term solution Uptown development is working on is to reroute the trail to cross at Linden Street. The trail will run to the tracks where it will then follow them.
“The trail will be rerouted moving behind the buildings on East Beaufort up to Linden and then back through,” Tulley said. Tulley also explained there is no solid date for when the detour will be put in place.
Uptown has planned improvements for the area where the crossing was. Gateway Plaza will replace the crossing. According to Aldrich, the Plaza area could potentially be closed until the new route is in place, which may not take place until late spring or early summer.
The plans for Gateway Plaza largely depend upon the pace of the railroad construction since Uptown is working closely with the contractors working on the railroad project.
“You’ll see pavers. There [will] be some concrete walls and terraces and some turf areas. Then you [will] see a couple, I would say, substantial trees, two trees that kind of frame the entrance,” Aldrich said in regards to the aesthetic of Gateway Plaza.
A canopy will cover the boarding area near the tracks so that travelers can be somewhat protected from the weather. It will run the entire length of the new transportation center, extending through Gateway Plaza to the Children’s Museum.
As far as the actual railroad tracks go, part of the plan is “before 2014 is what I’m hearing, is to kind of widen the distance between the tracks,” Aldrich said.
He further explained trespassing is an issue near tracks, meaning pedestrians cross at undesignated areas. The plan is that, once the tracks are farther apart, a fence could be erected between them to discourage unsafe crossing.
The new transportation and City Hall building will become a center for travel, which should be more convenient for students and locals.
“ISU students, for example, will be able to catch a transit bus, a regional bus, an Amtrak train. There’ll be room for pedestrians, bicycle parking, and traditional automobiles as well,” Tulley said.
The new building is divided into buildings A and B. Building A will hold the transportation center and City Hall. Building B will be the parking garage. The ground floor of building A is the transportation ticketing and waiting areas. This floor also will include what Aldrich explained as “a quick food service vending operation.”
The buses come into the station at the ground floor of the parking area. There will also be space for retail vendors on the west end.
“What’s going to happen in the long-term here in Normal is they're going to load passengers potentially off of both platforms,” Aldrich said.