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New Lenox will seek traffic relief at railroad crossings

Canadian National will pay for study

Published: Saturday, July 19, 2014 11:15 p.m. CDT

NEW LENOX – Village officials want to see if traffic conditions can be improved at the Gougar Road railroad crossing with a grade separation. 

The New Lenox Village Board last week approved the use of funds provided by Canadian National Railway Co. to conduct a preliminary engineering study. The study will examine the feasibility and cost of a potential overpass or underpass at the Gougar Road railroad crossing.

They also approved HR Green Inc. and Christopher B. Burke Engineering to perform the study.

The construction of an overpass or underpass could cost between $25 million to $30 million, New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann said. Because the Gougar Road railroad crossing is in Will County jurisdiction, Baldermann said, the village would have to work with county officials, who may seek funding assistance from state and federal agencies. 

The village had a voluntary agreement with Canadian National Railway in 2010 to fund the preliminary study. 

“It’s [Canadian National Railway’s] money we’re using to do this initial study to determine a cost for an underpass and overpass,” said Baldermann.

He said a grade separation is needed so traffic issues at the railroad crossing can be resolved. 

The village has six railroad crossing and there are no grade separations at any of them. At times, Baldermann said, motorists having to travel to Joliet or Frankfort to get to the other side of the tracks if a train is blocking it. A grade separation would also be important for ambulances and police vehicles, he said.

The number of trains coming through the village has increased about sevenfold, Baldermann said.

“As the economy gets better and more goods get shipped by rail there is going to be more trains,” he said. 

Gougar Road runs north and south in New Lenox while the railroad runs east and west. The Gougar Road crossing was chosen for the study because the site provides enough space for an overpass or underpass, Baldermann said. 

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