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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Digest: Illinois agency provides funds to address ‘inherently dangerous’ crossing in Chicago suburb

Digest: Illinois agency provides funds to address ‘inherently dangerous’ crossing in Chicago suburb

By | April 6, 2021

News Wire Digest second section for April 6: Metra to add service on three lines; Metro-North announces schedule changes

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Commuter train approaching grade crossing
Commuter train approaching grade crossing
An inbound Metra train approaches the Grand Avenue grade crossing in Elmwood Park, Ill. The tracks cross the road at a 10-degree angle, making the area between crossing gates more than 300 feet. (Trains: David Lassen)

Elmwood Park, Ill., to receive $24 million for planned  underpass at dangerous crossing

The Illinois Commerce Commission is awarding $24 million to the village of Elmwood Park, Ill., for construction of an underpass at a grade crossing that was labeled “inherently dangerous” after a 2005 accident in which a Metra train struck six vehicles. The Chicago Tribune reports the underpass will cost about $100 million, and that while the city continues to seek other funding for the project, engineering work will be completed in the next two years. The intersection in question sees Metra’s Milwaukee West line cross Grand Avenue, a heavily used roadway, at 10-degree angle, creating a grade crossing some 366 feet in length. The intersection was the site of a November 2005 accident in which a Metra train traveling about 70 mph hit six vehicles stuck on the track in heavy traffic, sending them into 11 other vehicles. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation called for construction of an underpass, saying the crossing was “inherently dangerous.” An Elmwood Park official told the paper cars “routinely get caught between the crossing gates” at the crossing.

Metra to add trains on BNSF, Milwaukee North, North Central lines

Metra will add service on three lines — the BNSF, Milwaukee North, and North Central — as of April 12, reflecting increasing ridership as conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic improve. The BNSF line will see additional inbound trains departing Aurora at 4:25 a.m. and 7:40 a.m.; additional outbound trains departing Chicago at 5:50 a.m. and 3:05 p.m., and schedule adjustments to two other trains. The Milwaukee North line will see two new inbound trains originating at Lake Forest — one at 7:43 a.m. and one at 6:09 p.m. for reverse commuters — and two new outbound trains, one departing Chicago at 6:25 a.m. for reverse commuters and one at 4:45 p.m. Two other trains will see schedule adjustments. The North Central Service, which currently is served by just two trains in each direction, will add a third each way — an inbound train departing Antioch at 7 a.m. and an outbound train departing Chicago at 6 p.m. One outbound train will have its schedule adjusted. Two trains on the Milwaukee West line will also see schedule adjustments. More details are here; full schedules for the affected lines are here.

Metro-North changes include restoration of weekend service at Wassaic, two more New Haven trains

Metro-North Railroad announced schedule changes effective April 12 that will restore weekend service to the Harlem Line’s Wassaic station, as well as weekday schedule changes to that line to accommodate track work north of the Hartsdale station that will require single-tracking between Scarsdale and North White Plains. Other changes will include two additional trains on the New Haven Line, along with a number of adjustments to existing trains; the reopening of the Manitou station on the Hudson line as of April 17; and special game-day service to Yankees home games. More information is available here.

10 thoughts on “Digest: Illinois agency provides funds to address ‘inherently dangerous’ crossing in Chicago suburb

    1. I have no idea, ALAN, where Grand Avenue in Elmwood Park is … just that the photo doesn’t show a crossing such as that which the artile describes.

  1. Alan, is 100% correct. The bucholic scene pictured here is NOT Elmwood Park at all. It looks like something on the BNSF or UP West or UP Northwest lines. And I’ve been across that intersection dozens of times and that is not a 10 degree crossing and not 300 feet between the gates. It is almost hilariously incorrect, save that the photo is of a Metra train somewhere in the Chicago suburbs.

    1. I think the use of a powerful zoom has skewed the perspective and now I am second-guessing my conclusion that it is not Elmwood Park.

  2. I think technically, the photo is not AT MP 10.5, but more likely from the Elmwood Park commuter platform looking towards MP 10.5 (in the frame), so as to allow for the foreground track curvature. More likely at MP 10.3. Great photo – it is a serious squash shot indeed!

  3. Mr. McClure, I sure don’t know the exact angle Grand Ave is with the railroad at that crossing. But I’ve ridden through there many times and the road is indeed at a VERY shallow angle with the railroad. And for that reason and for the auto traffic Grand Ave hosts and the rail traffic Metra and CP operate, it’s got to be one of the most dangerous crossings in the Chicago metropolitan region. As fallout from that 2005 incident, the railroad was slapped with something like a 30mph slow order. The train that evening was where it was supposed to be, doing what it was supposed to be doing…and the motorists caught out on the crossing weren’t. But the railroad had to pay the price. Can’t let them off the hook. Excellent news, a grade separation. It cannot go into service soon enough.

  4. I was all set to state that it was not the Elmwood Parx crossing but when I looked closer, I agree that it is truly is. Just compressed by a telephoto lens.
    If you go to Google Maps and look at the Grand Ave crossing area, you will see that the street has raised yellow painted dividers between the east and west bound lanes and the signage and signal boxes match.
    https://www.google.com/maps/@41.926115,-87.8190933,3a,49.5y,289.71h,84.94t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s818SCNTJx9x4HFK2GKr2sw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

  5. At such a shallow angle, the underpass is going to have to be some 10 blocks long, and almost tunnel-like. A skew angle like that cannot be achieved with traditional bridging techniques. It’s going to have to be something like where the girders- likely more than 100 of them- are perpendicular to the road, and railroad is on top of that.

  6. All I can say to that Mr. Winegar is, “Whatever it takes”. It would be good if Grand Ave could be run into a reverse curve that would put it perpendicular to the railroad for the distance under the railroad. That would end the challenges you, I think correctly, cite. But I suspect homes and businesses would have to be taken to make the room needed for that. And politically that would be a non-starter.

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