The Federal Railroad Administration has given its final approval to a plan that would move Springfield rail traffic from Third Street to 10th Street. The decision Tuesday was no surprise. An earlier study indicated 10th street consolidation the likely choice. Still, the announcement was just what Springfield area leaders, like Mayor Mike Houston, had hoped for.
Houston has long argued that more trains along Third Street will split the city and result in traffic delays and more noise downtown. Over the last several months, he called it the most important issue facing Springfield…
HOUSTON “It’s something that’s going to affect this community for the next 50 or 100 years depending on which tracks are chosen.”
Houston and other supporters of 10th street consolidation now have the blessing of the state and federal governments. It was a long battle to get to this point. Convincing them included studies that showed benefits to placing trains away from the downtown and along the east side of Springfield. That includes new high speed rail service. But the biggest concern is more freight trains. Union Pacific is running 7 trains a day along Third Street. A new multimodal facility in northern Illinois will bring in more… an estimated 22 a day over the next decade.
There is still a major question on shifting rail traffic. Construction along 10th Street will take years with an estimated cost of 300 million dollars or more. Where that money will come from is still uncertain, although Mayor Houston has discussed low interest loans as well as lobbying for federal and state assistance.