Village Seeks Answers on Proposed Amtrak Expansion

Village Seeks Answers on Proposed Amtrak Expansion

The Northbrook Village board, along with the leaders for the Villages of Glenview, Deerfield, and Bannockburn and the city of Lake Forest, Northbrook Village Trustees are taking action to get more answers on a proposed expansion of daily Amtrak Hiawatha commuter train service between Milwaukee and Chicago. In November, Northbrook Trustees passed a resolution officially seeking more information on the proposal and requesting an extension of the public comment period to address some of their concerns.

The Illinois and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation (IDOT and WisDOT) in partnership with Amtrak are considering increasing the number of daily round trips on the Hiawatha Service line from seven to 10. Last October, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the lead federal agency for the project, released a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) which outlined differed proposals that could be used to accommodate the increase and mitigate any conflict with freight trains. As part of the FRA’s process, a public comment period must be held before the agency can make a finding of no significant impact, which would make the project eligible for federal funding.

In the EA, two different alternatives for improvements to be made at the area around the junction point of the Canadian Pacific and Union Pacific (UP) railroads located south of Techny Road were proposed. Both alternatives call for the construction of a holding track adjacent to the existing tracks between West Lake Avenue in Glenview and to just north of Techny Road. This track would allow for Canadian Pacific trains to hold and wait for clearance before moving off onto the UP line without blocking other rail traffic. In addition to the new holding track, the project would also require a new bridge to be built next to the recently constructed replacement Shermer Road viaduct.

In their resolution, the Village expressed concerns about the impact the additional trains would have on traffic at the crossings in Northbrook at Dundee Road, Shermer Road through the Central Business District and especially Techny Road. In particular, they expressed concern with the impact on residents and businesses living and working near the proposed project site. Also of concern are idling trains, a new railroad turnout north of Techny Road and temporary lane closures on Techny and Shermer Roads during construction.

The Village and neighboring communities, along with U.S. Representatives Schneider and Schakowsky are requesting a more comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which would require more extensive documentation of the project’s initial impacts. Additionally, the Village is requesting an engineering study of the traffic and emergency service impacts of the proposed holding track on Techny Road.

Shortly after passing the resolution, federal and state officials extended the public comment period until January 15, 2017. Links to the EA and methods of commenting on it can be found on the Village website. Once the public comment period ends, the FRA will make a determination as to whether to issue a finding of no significant impact and whether or not to move forward with the proposal.&’ type=’text/javascript’>