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Thomas Clatterbuck

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Ronald Batory is probably not an official you’ve heard of before. But yesterday, he was the man to impress in Springfield. Mayor Jim Langfelder, Sangamon County Chairman Andy Van Meter, Congressman Rodney Davis (R-13), representatives for Congressman Darin LaHood (R-18), Senators Tammy Duckworth (D) and Dick Durbin (D), as well as other local stakeholders all came out to meet with Administrator Batory.

Batory is the Administrator for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). They are the organization that oversees America’s railroads. They will control if Springfield can move forward with its various high speed rail improvements and track consolidation efforts.

The bipartisan efforts seem to have paid off. At the press conference, Batory pointed to the local “unanimity” supporting the project. Batory also has Springfield ties, so he was already somewhat familiar with the projects being discussed.

A happy discovery causes a delay

The rail projects have been in the planning stages for decades. According to Davis, funding has been one of the perennial hangups delaying the project. But a valuable discovery in the Carpenter Street Corridor also played a role in slowing the project down.

Remains of several homes that had been destroyed during the 1908 Race Riot were discovered in the construction area. The riot played an important role in African American history, as it was the catalyst that lead to the creation of the NAACP in 1909. Finding these homes and the artifacts inside was a discovery of both local and national significance.

It also meant that the FRA put a hold on the rail construction in the area. The historic nature of the Carpenter Street area made it eligible for the National Registry of Historic Places. This made the FRA reluctant to allow work to continue in the area. It took several months to establish that there were no prudent alternatives. A plan was developed to minimize the impact on the historic site so the rail work could continue, which was endorsed by both Illinois’ Senators as well as Davis and LaHood.

Artifacts from the site are undergoing curation and preservation efforts. The hope is that some will be displayed both locally and in the Smithsonian Institute and Library of Congress.

Looking to the future

The future looks bright for the Springfield Rail Improvement Project. Having convinced Administrator Batory, the project appears to be on or moving to the “fast track.” It is anticipated the work will be completed by 2025.

You can watch the full press conference in the player above, or Congressman Davis’ Q&A session below:

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Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

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LIVE | Springfield City Council Committee of the Whole April 9th

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council committee of the whole meeting. The council will be discussing proposals to allow businesses to access the local fiber optic network. Fiber optic connections can dramatically increase network speeds over other technologies.

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Announcements

City branch pickup starts tomorrow in the Northwest Quadrant

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Springfield’s spring branch pickup program starts Monday, April 8th. Each quadrant of the city will have two pickup dates, one in April and one in May. Crews will only visit each quadrant once per month. The first pickup will be in the Northwest Quadrant.

Size of Branch Piles

Branches must meet the following standards to be picked up:

  • No larger than 3 foot in height, 4 foot in depth, and 10 feet in length;
  • Piles larger than a small pickup load will not be picked up by the city;
  • The program is for branches only, no logs will be accepted
  • Branches/limbs trimmed by a commercial contractor will not be picked up; and
  • Branches must be placed on the curb not obstructing the street or sidewalk.

Small branches may also be broken up and put into yard waste bags for pick up by your waste hauler.

Year-Round Residential Branch Drop Off

Residents may drop off branches, free of charge year-round, to Evans Recycling with proof of residency. This service is not for commercial contractors but for city residents only. Evans Recycling is located at 2100 J. David Jones Parkway and is open Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, 7:00 a.m. – 12-noon. Contact number is 217.391.0886.

Pickup schedule

Week of April 8th & May 6th

  • Northwest Quadrant – area north of South Grand Avenue and Old Jacksonville Road.  West of Walnut Street/J David Jones Parkway.

Week of April 15th & May 13

  • Southwest Quadrant – area south of South Grand Avenue and Old Jacksonville Road.  West of Walnut Street.

Week of April 22nd & May 20th

  • Southeast Quadrant– area south of South Grand Avenue and east of Walnut Street, including the properties around Lake Springfield.

Week of April 29th & May 27th

  • Northeast Quadrant – area north of South Grand Avenue and east of Walnut/J. David Jones Parkway.

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LIVE | Springfield City Council Meeting April 3rd

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council meeting for April 3rd, 2019. This meeting was moved for the April 2nd, election. There will be a presentation by Public Works on yard waste pickup service in the city. They also discussed providing funding for the Land of Lincoln Economic Development Corporation.

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