The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 14, 2013

DATS OKs road studies

26 trains per day cross at Voorhees

BY JENNIFER BAILEY
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Danville Area Transportation Study officials approved proceeding with two studies Thursday — one pertaining to railroad crossings and one for land use along the East Main Street corridor.

With preparation of the Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail, an analysis was completed that identified exposure factors for at-grade crossings to warrant grade separation studies within three population categories: more than 200,000, 5,000-200,0000 and less than 5,000.

Exposure factors were calculated as the product of roadway average daily traffic and train volumes in the state.

Based on the expected exposure factors, all four at-grade crossings of the Norfolk Southern and CSX crossings on Voorhees and Bowman Avenue should have additional cost/benefit analysis completed along with public and local agency input to determine the feasibility of grade separations at these locations, according to Hanson Engineers.

The crossing with the highest exposure factor and highest historical crash data is the Norfolk Southern crossing on Voorhees Street between Bowman Avenue and Griffin Street near the city’s Public Works facility.

Twenty-six trains travel along these tracks daily, but future projections show the trains could increase to 33 daily.

Average daily vehicle traffic is 15,800 across those tracks.

Projections increase the number to 19,000 ADT in 2035.

There have been one fatal accident and three other injury accidents at the Norfolk Southern railroad crossing on Voorhees during the last 20 years.

A feasibility study of this location could determine expected benefit cost ratios, schematic level layouts, right-of-way impacts and identified funding sources.

The railroad crossing study also would include a Norfolk Southern crossing in Catlin.

Danville Urban Services Director David Schnelle said consultant bids will be opened next week, with the expected study cost not exceeding $20,000.

East Main Street

The study will identify issues and opportunities along the East Main Street corridor within the city and include an analysis of land use and redevelopment alternatives.

The study will look at urban design, land use and zoning, traffic and circulation, housing and economic development opportunities that will be prioritized based on input from a stakeholder committee.

The stakeholder committee will be comprised of representatives of Danville Area Community College, Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System, Vermilion Advantage and other corridor property and business owners

Over time the East Main Street corridor has increasingly become a barrier that divides neighborhoods and people while encouraging anti-urban land-use patterns, according to city officials.

The surrounding neighborhoods have experienced disinvestment and blight has become more widespread in the study area.

At the same time, the corridor still exists as a primary point of entry to the community and the corridor contains several destination locations for those visiting the community.

The appearance of the corridor has not always offered encouraging impressions of the community though, nor is it giving a good indication of all the positives that the community has to offer, according to the city’s study proposal.

A plan will be developed that is visionary, yet an achievable blueprint for change that balances the study area’s amenities with appropriate future redevelopment. The plan will then enable the community to set forth and achieve a comprehensive redevelopment plan framework that can also be used to attract private investment.

Specifically, the study will strive to strengthen the transportation and land use relationship by: improving upon the appearance of the corridor and making the corridor an inviting focal point for the community, while improving traffic operations by focusing on more efficient and alternate means of travel, and establishing a more desirable economic environment for redevelopment.

This will also assist in the coordination of development within this area with other public improvements or land-use activities and result in the transformation of East Main Street into a multi-modal corridor that strengthens mobility, accessibility and prosperity for the region, according to the city’s proposed scope of the study.

The study area will be the area along and adjacent to East Main Street (U.S. Highway 136) from the intersection of East Main and the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks on the west to the intersection of East Main and Kansas Avenue on the east, representing a corridor approximately 2.6 miles in length. The boundaries also generally include the area on each side of East Main Street in which land-use decisions will influence corridor development.

The study is expected to run from June 2013 to January 2014, with a cost of $70,000.

In addition, about $20,000 in DATS funding is being earmarked for traffic counters for county DATS members.

In other business, DATS Policy Committee members discussed:

DATS funding of about $1.7 million will be earmarked during three years for the project, from 2014 to 2017. The remaining funding will be local funding.

The project will include reconstruction of the roadway, curb and gutters, a bus turnout and shared-use path connection between Winter Avenue and Voorhees.