fox-creek-bridge

Fox Creek Road & Bridge Improvements

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Overview
The Fox Creek Road Bridge replacement will increase the safety and capacity of Fox Creek Road and provide multi-modal access to cross Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR). This project is within the Hamilton/Fox Creek corridor, which provides east-west mobility for the community. Unfortunately, the City is awaiting resolution regarding the design of the bridge over the UPRR, which means that the project is stalled at this time. Staff expects that construction will begin in March 2020. However, further delays may push construction back to 2021 or beyond.

foxcreek1Photo from the October 2014 Value Planning Design Study completed by Benesch

Project Description
The new roadway will consist of 2 lanes in each direction with a bi-directional center turn lane, totaling 5 travel lanes. The City will replace the bridge, which will have the same cross section as the rest of the roadway, install traffic signals at the intersections of Fox Creek Road at Danbury Drive and Fox Creek Road at Beich Road. In addition, the City will construct a 10-foot wide, multi-use trail north of the roadway, connecting the trail east and west of the project limits, and a sidewalk south of the roadway. These improvements will provide a road design similar to the roadway east and west of the project area.

Funding
Staff estimates that the total construction cost will be up to $7.5 million, which will be paid from state Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) funds. Approximately 60% of the bridge replacement costs are eligible for reimbursement from the Illinois Commerce Commission’s (ICC) Grade Crossing Protection Fund (GCPF). This reimbursement will be nearly $2 million dollars, meaning a net total cost of $5.5 million of City MFT funds.

Funding Source

Cost

Illinois Motor Fuel Tax

$5,500,000

Grade Crossing Protection Fund (Reimbursed)

$2,000,000

TOTAL

$7,500,000

Schedule
Benesch began the project design in 2014. The City’s project team held a public meeting in March 2015. Then, they studied and selected the bridge cross section, which the City Council approved in March 2016. However, after UPRR reviewed the proposal between September 2016 and October 2016, they changed their design standards to require the bridge to accommodate the existing railroad track, 2 future tracks, and 2 access roads, which would have cost an additional $800,000. City staff believed the requirement was unreasonable, considering that UPRR did not have any known plans to expand railroad infrastructure under the bridge. After negotiations with UPRR failed to resolve this issue, staff filed an ICC petition, using a legal consultant, Hinshaw and Culbertson, LLP, in April 2017. The petition requested that the City not be required to pay the additional $800,000 for an oversized bridge, suggesting that UPRR could pay for the oversizing or the City could be allowed to build the proposed bridge.

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Illustration of the existing bridge, proposed bridge, and bridge requested by UPRR

Since April 2017, City staff, working with Hinshaw and Culbertson, has attempted to expedite the ICC hearing process with little success. The first hearing did not take place until April 2018. In June 2018, the ICC judge stated that UPRR would have to pay the difference between Bloomington’s proposed bridge and UPRR’s required bridge. As a result, UPRR withdrew their objection to the City’s original design in June 2018. Since then, the City has been waiting for an order from the ICC court so that the order can be heard by the Commission. Staff expects that the Commission will hold a hearing in February 2019 to hear from the ICC judge and finalize the order in March 2019. However, this time frame depends on the ICC.

After the ICC makes their ruling, UPRR will potentially have three iterations of consideration of the bridge plans prior to their approval. The City will then have to obtain an agreement with UPRR to construct the bridge on their property. In addition, UPRR had significant downsizing in 2018. These factors could cause additional project delays, which makes it difficult for staff to give an accurate estimate as to when the project will be complete. These issues have caused similar problems for states and municipalities throughout the country.

If all goes as planned, staff expects that UPRR consideration, land acquisition, and design finalization will take place between March 2019 and November 2019. Then, staff can advertise and bid the project between December 2019 and February 2020, with construction beginning in March 2020 and ending by March 2021. However, the time frame is far from certain, because the City has to rely on the ICC and UPRR for timely reviews and decisions.

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