As the Springfield Railway Improvements Project moves toward completion, an increasing number of businesses have been impacted, with more to come. Benmar Sunrooms was the first business to be displaced in 2014, and since then, an additional 18 businesses have had to relocate as a result of work taking place along the rail corridors. Another 15 companies will be impacted as part of the project, in addition to the residential properties that have been acquired.
The Springfield Railway Improvements Project is a $356 million federally-supported part of the Illinois High-Speed Rail Chicago to St. Louis program that will consolidate and streamline rail traffic through Springfield by relocating the Third Street rail traffic to the 10th Street corridor, with several underpasses constructed throughout the city along the six-mile improvement zone, as well as the 19th Street corridor. Scheduled to be completed in late 2025, the project aims to increase safety, enhance livability by decreasing noise and pollution and diminish barriers in neighborhoods throughout the city.
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A Springfield-Sangamon County Transportation Center will be constructed downtown, as an intermodal facility that will combine Springfield Mass Transit District buses, Amtrak, taxis, intercity buses and paratransit vehicles under one roof, with an adjacent parking garage. Hanson Professional Services is coordinating all aspects of the project, from property acquisition to construction of underpasses and overpasses, rail lines and the transportation hub.
Eve Blackwell-Lewis has served as the ombudsperson for the project since 2015, helping to facilitate communication and to advocate for residential and business owners whose properties are acquired through eminent domain. Blackwell-Lewis is an attorney who retired from the state of Illinois and a Springfield resident who lives along the 10th Street corridor.
“I am a watchdog,” says Blackwell-Lewis, “making sure that the people being relocated or moved are treated fairly and in accordance with the law and regulations.”