Viaduct replacement still needs funding

Marianne Gillespie
Mayor Doug Crew uses a tablet to capture images of one of the tunnels of the viaduct on the north side of town. The area was closed for two weekends in a row so that road crews could resurface the roadway as it had become rough from potholes and patches.

While the road surface now is smooth, work is not complete at the city’s north entrance to town.

Officials are still working toward an end goal of the replacement of the viaduct.

When the area was closed to traffic for the first weekend, Aug. 8-10, Mayor Doug Crew and Mike Krost, chairman of the Chillicothe Viaduct Safety Initiative, got an inside peek to the area with four Illinois Department of  Transportation engineers when the area first closed Aug. 8.

Krost said the personnel pointed out and explained things inside the two tunnels.

Funding for design work to the tune of $2.2 million was announced in April 2012, which was to take two to three years to complete. Full funding for actual construction has not been announced for the project, which would feature one structure to carry three mainline tracks, a yard track, service road and pedestrian walkway. That work is estimated at $22 million. In April 2013, Gov. Pat Quinn released a state highway improvement plan which did list the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad project with a time estimate of 2015-19 and $11.58 million earmarked for the project. It is not known if or what the railroad will pay.

Officials have continued to apply for a federal TIGER grant. The latest round of grantees is to be announced in September, Krost said.

The latest effort by officials includes inviting more dignitaries to see for themselves what Chillicotheans and others want replaced.

“We’re really pushing for Dick Durbin to come here between now and Labor Day,” Krost said of the U.S. senator.

The grassroots effort to replace the viaduct began with Krost and the Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce. It is estimated more than 8,000 vehicles travel through the area daily. With its narrow lanes, semi-trucks and buses must use extreme caution while in that area. IVC District 321 school buses avoid the area.