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Road work for high-speed rail to start this month
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Road work for high-speed rail to start this month

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NORMAL — A busy intersection near Illinois State University is expected to close for high-speed rail upgrades this month — the first of several in Bloomington-Normal to be renovated this year.

"Middle to late May they're going to start the first major intersection project in town (University at Beaufort streets). That intersection will be closed for three weeks and completely renovated with new safety equipment," said City Manager Mark Peterson.

"Starting in late June, they'll be going through the community doing intersections (one at a time). It'll be a traffic disruption, no doubt about it, in the late summer probably going into the fall. ... We'll do our best to get information out to the community so people know where to go."

The upgrades are necessary for trains to travel safely through Bloomington-Normal at up to 110 mph, starting in 2017.

Construction could also start this month on the second rail platform at Uptown Station following Normal City Council action Monday.

"We're expecting they'll mobilize on the site in late May or early June," Peterson said of the contractor, River City Construction. "We'll be meeting with the contractor here in the next 10 days, and they'll lay out their schedule."

Two weeks after awarding a $2.5 million contract for work at the station, the council approved a new agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation, a partner in the project. Federal high-speed rail funding will pay for the upgrades, which are expected to be done this year.

The platform won't be used until the station also receives an at-grade crossing connecting the south-side platform to Uptown Station on the north side of the tracks. Peterson said that project, which could cost up to $1 million, is awaiting approval from IDOT and Union Pacific Railroad.

"We've done everything we can do," he said. "It will probably (start construction) late summer or early fall."

Peterson said the crossing could open as late as spring 2017.

The crossing would be removed after the town builds a permanent solution to get pedestrians from north of the station to the Uptown South district — still expected to be an underpass that could cost up to $11 million.

Town staff is assembling a request for proposals for a two-year feasibility study necessary before an underpass project.

Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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