1. Where is the study area?

The Central Avenue at BRC Railroad Grade Separation Study area is adjacent to Midway Airport on the City of Chicago’s southwest side. The study limits are from 51st St. to the north to 58th St. to the south.

2. What are the study goals and objectives?
The study will examine grade separating the Central Avenue at BRC Railroad Grade crossing. Alternatives will be examined and detailed until a preferred alternative is selected. After a preferred alternative is identified, the study team will complete a Phase I Study which includes a Combined Design Report (CDR), Location Drainage Study (LDS), and EA.

3. What are some of the potential benefits of the study?
Approximately 23,200 vehicles and 30 freight trains pass through the crossing daily. The 2040 Projected ADT at this crossing is 31,000 vehicles and similar freight train delay. Eliminating the at-grade crossing will reduce roadway congestion and improve safety at this location.

4. What does it mean to be “at-grade”?
An at-grade railroad crossing is where the roadway and railroad intersect at the same elevation which requires proper warning to reduce the inherent hazard of collisions between trains and vehicles.

5. What is the CREATE Program?
The Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program is a first-of its-kind partnership between the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), State of Illinois, City of Chicago, Metra, Amtrak, and the nation’s freight railroads. A Program of national significance, CREATE was developed to increase the efficiency of the region’s rail infrastructure.

6. Who is conducting the study?
IDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are the lead government agencies. A consultant team led by HDR Engineering, Inc. will conduct the Central Avenue at BRC Railroad Grade Separation Study.

7. How is this study being funded?
The study is being funded under the CREATE program. The program provides funding for critically needed improvements to Chicago’s passenger and freight rail infrastructure. The Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) FY 2014-2019 Proposed Multimodal Transportation Improvement Program includes $2,000,000 to complete the Phase I Engineering as well as partial funding in the amount of $15,000,000 for Construction. IDOT’s FY 2014-2019 Proposed Multimodal Transportation Improvement Programs does not include funding for Phase II (contract plan preparation and land acquisition).

8. What is the Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process?
CSS is a State of Illinois requirement for major or complex projects that seeks effective, multi-modal transportation solutions by working with stakeholders to develop, build and maintain cost-effective transportation facilities that fit into and reflect the study area surroundings—it’s “context.” Residents, business leaders and local representatives will have opportunities to be engaged in the study through public involvement meetings. Progress updates and upcoming meeting times and locations will be provided on this website under Get Involved.

9. How will the community and stakeholders take part in the process?
As part of the CSS process, local residents, business leaders, and representatives from transit agencies, community groups and local governments are included in the Central Avenue at BRC Railroad Grade Separation Study. We encourage the community to visit this website, which will be updated throughout the study and will offer an easy way for the public to provide input. In addition, there will be public meetings and other opportunities for public input. Since the project commenced in 2013, a Public Meeting was held to introduce the project to stakeholders and four Community Advisory Group (CAG) meetings have been held since the Public Meeting. The CAG has had input in the project’s Purpose and Need, alternatives development, and alternatives to be carried forward through workshops and discussions with the project team. To learn more about the Stakeholder Involvement Plan (SIP) please click here.

10. Are properties going to be impacted?
Residential and commercial property impacts are expected. The extent of these impacts will not be known until a preferred alternative is chosen.

11. What is the land acquisition process?
IDOT’s policy requires a step-by-step procedure when acquiring property to construct capital improvements. The land acquisition process will follow the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act, as amended, and the IDOT Land Acquisition Procedure Manual

12. What is the schedule for the study?
Study Schedule 2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         13. When will construction begin?
The 18 month Phase I study will be complete in October 2014. Construction can begin no sooner than 2017 and is based on fund availability and project readiness. Currently, this project is not in the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) 6-year plan. Although there is partial funding for construction, there is no funding for phase II (Design) engineering at this time.

14. Who can I contact about this study?
Stay connected! If you would like more information, to be placed on our mailing list, or have a question or comment please submit the form here or email the project team at centralbrc@hdrinc.com
                                                                                                                                             15. What are the next steps?
With continued stakeholder involvement, the preferred alternative will continue to be refined, and will be presented to the public for review and comment at a Public Meeting. The preferred alternative will be selected based on four criteria: meeting the Purpose and Need, financial sustainability, constructability, and environmental resource evaluation.

Stakeholder input is vital throughout the study process to determine the preferred alternative for the Central Avenue at BRC Railroad Grade Separation Study.