I-294 widening affects train, park

Tessa Voytovich, Reporter

LT sports teams such as tennis and cross country use Spring Rock Park for practices after school– however, this may change. The Burlington-Northern Santa Fe train tracks must be rerouted for the impending construction project on the I-294 Tollway. Here’s the catch: it limits access to the park.

“We, as a municipality, simply don’t have the power to stop the $4 billion project,” Western Springs Village Manager Ingrid Velkme said. “But we will do our best to make sure it affects our residents as little as possible and that we are made whole once the project is finished.”

A temporary “shoofly bridge” will maintain railway traffic during the project, Western Springs officials said. The bridge connects Western Springs and Hinsdale over the Tollway, and about 104 metra and Amtrak trains use these tracks daily. Work on the Tollway is estimated to last until 2025, while the non-permanent bridge will be in use until 2022.

Most work will occur on the south side of the tracks because Hillgrove is the main avenue for Western Springs public works, the recreation center, and swimming pool. The main area in Western Springs that will be impacted is Burlington Avenue near where Spring Rock is located, Velkme said.

“We do know that there is a three to four year infringement on the use of the park.” Western Springs Park District Executive Director Walter Knake said. “It could be very detrimental to the peaceful enjoyment that our residents have come to expect there.”

Trucks will have to enter through the park from the Tollway, since officials do not want traffic coming through downtown. Girl’s cross country runs around this same area weekly, and has been for a long time.

“If we can’t use the park anymore, it’s going to be pretty inconvenient,” cross country runner Emily Dickett ‘19 said.

Construction has only just began, Velkme said, and is starting on the tollway itself.

“It’s going to be noisy and dusty, but that’s just part of a construction project,” Velkme said.