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Town of Normal Featured Topics

Posted on: November 17, 2021

Normal Uptown Connector (Underpass Project)

Feature Topic Pic - cropped

Project Description:

The underpass will provide: 

  • pedestrian, bicycle and passenger access beneath the Union Pacific Railroad, connecting the north and south passenger platforms for Amtrak passengers and providing a safe and accessible passage for Constitution Trail users.
  • a safe, convenient and accessible passage for bikes and pedestrians between Uptown North and Uptown South, eliminating the barrier of the tracks and promoting economic development on both sides.

Community Impact & Benefits:

Increased safety

The Town of Normal is experiencing increased number of trains and increased speeds of trains, as well as slower and stopped trains, all of which create safety concerns at the Linden & Broadway crossings; the underpass will ensure fewer conflicts with trains, pedestrians and cyclists. The underpass will allow pedestrian, bicyclists, and Amtrak passengers to access Uptown north and south regardless of whether a train is present, providing a safer connection to both sides of the railroad tracks. 

Economic opportunity 

The underpass offers opportunities for expanded economic success of Uptown Normal by creating a more direct connection between the north and south plazas. A direct connection between the current Uptown business district and the 8 acres south of the railroad tracks will make redevelopment in this area more appealing. The underpass will attract people to the area, contributing to the success of existing businesses and efforts to attract new businesses, which create and support jobs. The effort will also create additional gathering and green space, both of which are needed in the Uptown area.

View a short video on this project!

Proposed Phase II Plan Delivery & Construction:

  • March 31, 2022 - 60% of plans completed and submitted
  • Sept. 1, 2022 - 90% of plans completed and submitted
  • Dec. 30, 2022 - Final plans, specifications and estimates
  • Dec. 14, 2024 - Substantial completion of Phase III construction

Recent Milestones:

Nov. 15, 2021 - The Normal Town Council approved a $3.3 million contract for Phase II and Phase III of engineering and design for this effort.

July 19, 2021 - The Normal Town Council approved a Grant Agreement with the United States Department of Transportation Under the Fiscal Year 2019 BUILD Transportation Grants Program. This grant agreement provides $13 million in funding through the 2019 BUILD (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development) grant through the USDOT and $3 million through Federal Section 130 funding for a total of $16 million of federal funding toward the underpass project. These funds will support Phase II (final project design) and Phase III (construction). An additional $6,250,000 in state funding was also allocated. 

Project History:

2020 - Results from an online survey indicate:

  • Respondents are in favor of adding amenities to the space
  • Expected users include pedestrians (~90%), cyclists (~70%), Amtrak passengers (>50%) and Connect Transit passengers (~20%)
  • A desire for ease of accessibility, with ~10% indicating they (or a family member) use mobility assistance devices

Nov. 12, 2019 - The U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced a grant of $13 million for the underpass project from the 2019 BUILD Transportation Discretionary Grants Program.

July 15, 2019 - The Town submitted an application for the Underpass at Uptown Station for funding through the 2019 Build Grant program. The application requested $16 million in funding.

Feb. 6, 2017 - The Normal Town Council approved the $1.5 million Phase I design process, including coordination among key stakeholders, development of concept plans, utility surveys, analysis of possible alternatives and gathering public feedback. At an April public open house, stakeholder groups representing a variety of sectors across the community expressed support for this effort, including transportation, education, business and finance, government, health and human services, private, non-profit and trades and labor. 

Dec. 6, 2016 - A memo of understanding is executed among the Illinois Department of Transportation, Union Pacific Railroad Company and the Town of Normal to explore options. 

Nov. 16, 2015 - The Normal Town Council adopted an update to the Uptown Normal Master Plan with an underpass noted as most favored alternative crossing.

Funding Overview:

To complete the underpass project, the Town of Normal will invest $1.69 million, about 7% of the total project cost. About 93% of the project funding comes from federal and state funding sources. 

Funding Source
Project Contribution Amount
Percentage of Total Project Cost
BUILD Fund
$13,000,000
54.3%
Other Federal Funds
$3,000,000
12.53%
Non-Federal Funds
$7,942,120
33.17%
Rebuild Illinois through the Illinois Commerce Commission
$5,000,000
20.88%
Illinois Commerce Commission Grade Crossing Protection Funds
$1,250,000
5.22%
The Town of Normal
$1,692,120
7.07%
Total Project Cost
$23,942,120
100%


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