(Goodfield, Illinois – June 21, 2012)
What has gone from a problem to frustration to pure bureaucratic bungling had left the central Illinois community of Goodfield in a lurch as what had been promised as action to finally fix the rough crossing of Illinois Highway 117 and Norfolk Southern railroad tracks became embroiled in a disagreement between the NS and the Illinois Dept. of Transportation, thus creating a Catch-22 problem for the Woodford County community as a known safety hazard went without repair.
The Route 117 crossing, over which 8,000 highway vehicles, including all school buses used in the town (Goodfield is part of the Eureka-Congerville-Goodfield Consolidated School District, and all students are bussed to Eureka for classes), has been a problem for years until both the NS and IDOT appeared before the Goodfield Village Board earlier this year, getting the governing body to authorize $8,000 for the creation of a temporary detour of Illinois Route 117 while repairs were to be made to the crossing. The Village Board members were told the crossing would be fixed in early June and thus would be done by now. But due to bickering between the railroad and IDOT, the only party to OK the agreement was the village of Goodfield.
But thanks to the action of the state agency having responsibility for railroad regulation and safety, the two disagreeing sides have been forced to play nice. Acting upon a public safety complaint, Illinois Commerce Commission Railroad Safety Specialist Aaron Tolliver made a trip from Springfield to Goodfield to investigate. What he saw was unacceptable.
“He watched the traffic and said ‘This is out of control. It’s got to get fixed,’” said Village Board President Ross Hohulin. “He (Tolliver) has the authority to say this has got to get done.”
Once commenced, the repairs are supposed to take less than a week, but the hope was to get the job done prior to school re-opening in August and the school buses having to make the slow, dangerous crossing twice daily. Now, thanks to the ICC’s intervention, such may be accomplished.
But community leaders, like Trustee Mike Grimm, are still leary. “I’ll quit being skeptical when I see (construction) cones and signs,” remarked Grimm.