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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. Preliminary bridge plans have received approval from UPRR and the documents are awaiting review by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) prior to final design. Staff expects final roadway and bridge design complete by fall 2020 with construction beginning in March 2021.

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 $7.75 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 over $2 million dollars, meaning a net total cost of approximately $5.5 million of City MFT funds.

Funding Source

Cost

Illinois Motor Fuel Tax

$5,500,000

Grade Crossing Protection Fund (Reimbursed)

$2,250,000

TOTAL

$7,750,000

Schedule
Benesch began the project design in 2014 and the City’s project team held a public meeting in March 2015. They then studied and selected the bridge cross section which included space for one future track and one access road, per UPRR standards. The City Council approved this design in March 2016. However, when UPRR reviewed the proposal between September 2016 and October 2016, they asked that the bridge accommodate the existing railroad track, 2 future tracks, and 2 access roads, citing new standards. These changes would have cost an additional $800,000. City staff believed this requirement was unreasonable, considering that UPRR did not have any known plans to expand railroad infrastructure under the bridge and that the proposal was submitted under the proper standards at that time. After negotiations with UPRR failed to resolve this issue, City 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 that the City could be allowed to build the originally proposed bridge.

foxcreek2
Illustration of the existing bridge, proposed bridge, and bridge requested by UPRR

For the next year the City staff, working with Hinshaw and Culbertson, 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, in June 2018 UPRR withdrew their objection to the City’s original design. While waiting for the ICC Order to be issued, the City submitted 30% plans to UPRR for review in September 2018. In February 2019 the ICC Order was entered with a project completion date of February 2021. In March 2019 the City sent a copy of the Order to UPRR, requesting that the plans submitted the previous September be reviewed. Between March and October of 2019 UPRR rejected the plans twice but without incorporating the Order. In late October UPRR accepted the Order and the City agreed to some minor revisions. Over the next couple months revisions were submitted and reviewed, and the City received contingent structural review approval of 30% plans in February 2020.

Due to the various delays through most of 2019 and into 2020, the City will request from the ICC a project extension, past the set completion date of February 2021. Prior to putting out for bid, two additional iterations for consideration of the bridge plans by UPRR are still required as well as the City obtaining an agreement with UPRR to construct a bridge on their property. If the process proceeds as planned, staff expects plan approval, UPRR agreement, and land acquisition all taking place between the spring and fall of 2020. Staff can then advertise and bid the project between October 2020 and December 2020, with construction beginning in March 2021 and ending by March 2022. Although this is the anticipated time frame, it is far from certain and is contingent on timely reviews and decisions by UPRR and the ICC.