Mt. Vernon Register-News

January 24, 2013

Officials propose new location for railroad overpass

By RICK HAYES
rick.hayes@register-news.com

MT. VERNON — — A new location for a railroad overpass bridge in the village of Belle Rive has been proposed by county officials.

County Engineer Brandon Simmons told members of the Highway Committee on Wednesday night that a secondary location on Fifth Street — north of Illinois 142 and Farm Service — is being recommended by his office and officials from Canadian National Railway.

Initially, a location on 11th Street had been considered, but when village officials learned that it would involve taking private property, discussions moved toward another location.

“This has been going on for many years. The village had three bridges at one point, but they’re all closed now. I’ve been to the village board meetings probably the last four out of six months,” Simmons said.

Simmons said the railroad is “fully on board” with the new location. He indicated the bridge is being paid for with a 60/40 split between the railroad and the Interstate Commerce Commission.

“The village will own it and be responsible for maintenance and replacement, if necessary, and the railroad can walk away,” Simmons concluded.

Under questioning from the committee, Simmons responded that the bridge should have a life expectancy of 80- to 100-years. The size of the bridge has not been determined, although Simmons said if village officials agree with the proposal, a bid letting could optimistically come as early as this spring.

Simmons presented the committee with a proposal to provide a turning lane for school buses at the new location of Mt. Vernon Township High School, south of Ambassador Lane on Wells Bypass Road. Preliminary cost estimates for the turning lane was placed at $300,000.

“We don’t have that kind of money,” Simmons said. “I don’t think we can afford to do it.” After some discussion, the committee in majority agreed.

However, Simmons said a bridge on Wells Bypass, north of the school location, needs rehabilitation. He noted the project would result in “massive detours” although the project could be completed within two to three weeks.

Perry County Construction has offered a preliminary estimate of $29,500 for the project — under the required amount to bypass the formal bidding process.

“We need to do it now with no school buses in and out of the area,” Simmons said.

In other business, the committee: