Group Says Railroad Threatens To Isolate East Side

Jan 29, 2015

The Rail Improvements Project includes plans to construct underpasses for traffic and eliminate train horns between Stanford and Sangamon avenues.

Springfield's plan to move rail traffic from Third Street to Tenth Street will displace an estimated 150 properties. Residents affected by the relocation agreed to the construction as long as the government provides job training for minorities and help for those losing their homes or businesses.

Sen. Andy Manar says the state should have oversight of that agreement.

"(The proposal is) not designed to be confrontational, it's not designed to inject division into this process. It is simply designed to say that the promises that were made when the agreement to proceed with Tenth Street was reached should be kept," the Democrat from Bunker Hill said.

Leroy Jordan was on a Rail Task Force for the the Faith Coalition for the Common Good. He says making sure these promises are kept will protect the city's east side.

"It is in that context and with the hope of promises fulfilled, that we come together today so in yet another hundred years, there be no steel and iron barriers in our community," Jordan said.

Manar's proposal would create an oversight committee, but would not include the power to enforce the agreement. Rep. Sue Scherer, a Democrat from Decatur, is proposing an identical measure in the House. 

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says the Illinois Department of Transportation is monitoring hiring on the project to make sure the promise of hiring minorities is fulfilled.