Trains, automobiles subject of Plainfield transportation talk
PLAINFIELD – Village of Plainfield and Will County officials forged new connections with U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield, and his staff Friday in an effort to solve transportation issues facing the village and region.
Hultgren and his staff also heard comments and suggestions from officials and residents on the need to solve increased road traffic and Plainfield’s train stoppage dilemma.
The special Village Board meeting held at Village Hall was the second time Hultgren has met with village officials to discuss transportation, following a May 17 meeting last year. This meeting was largely an informational session for Hultgren to gather local input and see what he can do at the federal level to resolve the issues.
“I think there are important opportunities coming up,” Hultgren said, mentioning President Barack Obama’s emphasis on infrastructure projects in his State of the Union address. “We’ve got to make sure we’re communicating and finding ways to get things done.”
Friday’s discussion centered around finding ways to de-congest road traffic and ensure economic success at the same time.
“Plainfield does not enjoy some of the benefits that surrounding communities do for access to the highways,” Trustee Margie Bonuchi said, adding that increased traffic is a safety issue, with Plainfield home to the fourth-largest school district by enrollment in the state.
Village Administrator Brian Murphy said several businesses have expanded but are concerned with the region’s transportation issues.
Village Public Works Director Allen Persons detailed plans for the $20 million 143rd Street extension project, connecting the street from Route 59 to Route 126 with a 900-foot bridge over the DuPage River. Staff identified it as a key road project to help alleviate traffic in the region.
Will County Center for Economic Development Director John Grueling said the center supports an increase in the federal gas tax and is urging Congress to approve a five- to six-year transportation funding bill.
“We move America on the roads, rail and with airplanes,” Grueling said, noting Will County is home to the largest inland port in North America. “We need a long-term commitment from the federal government to tackle these problems.”
Another issue discussed Friday was Canadian National trains regularly stopping at several road crossings in town for hours at a time.
“We’ve had several issues with CN,” Mayor Michael Collins said of delays at the 17 different road-rail crossings in Plainfield. “Sometimes [the delay] is more than an hour. It’s really an issue in this part of town.”