Joliet gets ready for railroad bypass
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org January 15, 2013 10:58PM
Updated: February 17, 2013 6:37AM
JOLIET —The city is getting ready to start the Woodruff Road Bypass, a $2.9 million project being paid for by the CN railroad.
The new road will bypass the CN crossing at Woodruff Road, located just outside the railroad’s Joliet yard.
Bids for the work are scheduled to go out in February and to be awarded in March. The road is expected to be completed in September, said James Haller, Joliet’s director of community and economic development.
“It’s pretty straight-forward construction,” Haller said.
But the project has been in the works for two years. CN first proposed the bypass as a solution to long and frequent waits at Woodruff Road.
The crossing is one of the busiest in the area not only because of its proximity to the railroad yard, but because trains are moving at slow speeds as they decelerate while approaching the yard or just picking up speed as they depart.
The bypass will allow residents in the Forest Park neighborhood to avoid the trains altogether on the drive between home and Collins Street, one of the city’s major thoroughfares. The bypass will take them east along the tracks until they reach Collins Street just past a viaduct where the trains will move overhead.
Not everyone has been pleased with the project because it puts another half-mile on the drive to Collins Street.
But it should be an interesting drive since the road is being built right through a wall of the women’s prison section of the old Joliet Correctional Center. It also winds around a lake that is the remnant of an old stone quarry.
Haller said the scenic possibilities has stirred interest in either setting aside some of the land for forest preserve trails or park land. He noted that a Collins Street Task Force in 2007 received a consultant’s recommendation that a road be built in that area to open it up for development.
Meanwhile, the project has created some peace and quiet for the neighborhood. A target range used by state prison guards was moved from the area to make room for the road.
The city not only is not paying for the road but expects to get $77,500 from it.
The state has an incentive payment program to encourage local governments to close at-grade crossings for safety’s sake. The Joliet City Council on Tuesday approved a measure that should make the state money available.