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Update: Shermer Road Will Remain Closed Two More Years

Northbrook and Glenview officials passed motions approving a redesign plan to replace the Shermer Rd. bridge that collapsed in July following a Union Pacific train derailment.

Update Aug. 29 at 4:05 p.m.

According to village officials at the board meeting, the two year time frame begins when all involved parties agree to the Memorandum of Understanding, and allows for the time it takes to receive necessary permitting, bridge design, manufacturing of new materials and finally installation. 

The new bridge, as described in the memo presented last night, would not be constructed with premade components. Everything, including the rails on top of the bridge, would be made specifically for this project.

Officials said they hope using new materials would provide additional safety precautions in addition to the safety measures addressed in the structure's design.

Update Aug. 29 at 10:40 a.m.

According to a Union Pacific spokesperson, Mark Davis, UP will detour freight traffic along alternate lines during the bridge construction period. However, the company will perform as much work before construction to avoid a detour. 

Also, the Memorandum of Understanding as presented at Tuesday's meeting only holds Union Pacific responsible for paying claims to local businesses during the period of time that it would take them to rebuild the original bridge. The company will likely cease paying claims after two months. 

The villages' Patriot Blvd. to Old Willow Rd. connection was designed to improve traffic toward businesses effected by the closed Shermer Rd. 

Original Story

One thing is certain after Tuesday's joint meeting between Northbrook and Glenview village board members — it's going to be a long time . 

In a Memorandum of Understanding provided for the villages meant to codify reconstruction plans for the , Union Pacific will foot a $10 million bill and construction duties for a new bridge spanning 149 feet across Shermer. A process that could take 18 to 24 months.  

According to Don Owen, Glenview's Deputy Village Manager, “For much of the time frame, nothing would change from the current environment.”

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During the special joint meeting held Tuesday night at Glenview Village Hall, both boards approved a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) village attorneys drafted from an MOU Union Pacific sent the villages last week. Union Pacific did not send representatives the public meeting.

The new design makes room for three vehicle lanes, a bike lane and a pedestrian sidewalk. The concrete support beam that ran down the middle of the former bridge would be gone.

“We certainly understand there’s frustration and a lot of other emotions relating to the temporary closure of Shermer Rd.," said Glenview Village President Kerry Cummings as the meeting started. "However it’s vitally important to our communities that safety is improved at every step with Union Pacific, especially to minimize the possibility of another tragedy like this recent derailment."

UP offered to construct a bridge identical to the last one, even using the concrete abutments already in place on Shermer that helped support the collapsed bridge. The rail company assured village officials a new version of the old viaduct would be structurally sound and could be completed in two to three months. 

But village officials pressed UP to design a new bridge that addressed more contemporary safety standards. In response, Union Pacific provided the villages three primary solutions:

  • The funding and construction of a 149 ft. bridge over Shermer Rd., using newly manufactured materials for about $10 million. 
  • The funding and construction of a temporary connection between Patriot Blvd. and Old Willow Rd. to help improve traffic toward businesses south of the bridge, estimated at $275,000. 
  • The funding and construction of a temporary traffic control signal at West Lake Ave. and Shermer to improve traffic flow in the area, estimated at $57,000.

The temporary connection to Patriot via Old Willow could take six to eight weeks to complete, so UP's memo offers to pay for a temporary traffic control signal at West Lake, which could be done within a week or two, to help traffic in the meantime. 

Philip Kiraly, Northbrook's Assistant Village Manager, construction cost estimates were prepared conservatively by village officials. Kiraly said he is confident the project would not exceed those estimates.

But according to Todd Hileman, Glenview's Village Manager, the villages may have to cover the difference if the construction of the Old Willow connection and temporary signal at West Lake exceeds $332,000. 

Odds and Ends

Union Pacific and the Illinois Department of Transportation still need to approve the MOU, but it doesn't seem like there will be road blocks gaining the remaining signatures.

According to Eric Patt, attorney for the Village of Glenview, Union Pacific agreed to all the villages' revisions but one, which is yet to be decided. The unresolved provision dealt with liability terms in the event of harm during construction.

Hileman said Union Pacific has inspected the other bridges along that line, specifically the Techny Rd., Willow Rd. and Central Ave. bridges. The company determined all three were structurally sound but, “Central Rd. bridge actually received some improvements during this time frame."

The Federal Railroad Administration has also granted UP authority to increase train speed to 50mph along the stone bridge that is in place now, but UP agreed to maintain traffic at 25mph, at least for some time, to accommodate village safety concerns. 

“We’ve had numerous conversations with Union Pacific regarding lowering the speed on those tracks and they have flat rejected those requests," Hileman said about the possibility for permanent speed reduction. 

Northbrook and UP are also looking at ways to improve storm water drainage on Shermer.

"That is a flooding area," Kiraly said. "The Northbrook Village Board did just approve a design study for storm water improvements in that area and so we will coordinate that with the construction of the bridge."

Northbrook Trustee James Karagianis asked if the redesigned bridge would improve the inadequate lighting at the previous bridge.

Kiraly said UP has responded favorably to questions of improved lighting at the new bridge, but nothing was agreed on yet. 

Robert Clifford, , was among the audience.

"Like" Northbrook or Glenview Patch to see future developments in your news feed. 

Stan Golovchuk August 29, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Donna, thanks for the feedback. Some details of the two year process were discussed at last night's meeting and I've added an update to the story that briefly describes the steps needed to install the new bridge. I hope this helps readers understand the Memorandum of Understanding a bit more.
BP August 30, 2012 at 08:42 AM
So anybody can come into the town ---dump a few tons of chat closing a road and say "ahhh we'll get to it in our own sweet time?" Union Pacific doesn't spend $10 on nothing for the public. What's the real money trail here?
Go With the Flow August 30, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Stan, thank you for the update. Unfortunately this does not help! They will only pay the small businnesses for two months of claims?!?!?!? What happens for the two years since the bridge has been closed since July 4th and their two months are going to be up on Tuesday?!?! I don't trust them when they say the other bridges are safe either.
george lemieux September 04, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Just buy a damn bridge on e-bay, I'll install it for you. I don't take credit cards...sorry... Please stop publishing these type of news in English. The world speaks it very well and will make fun of you...2 years for a stinky bridge...yeap, the Mayans are right...end of world must be near hahahahahha
Kavan Sidhu April 04, 2014 at 03:31 AM
Well good news bridge is finally up and we have a September deadline to reopen for good.

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