(Goodfield, Illinois – November 25, 2011)
Drivers of any type of highway vehicle have found plenty of reasons to complain about the crossing surface condition of Illinois Highway 117 (Eureka Street) and Norfolk Southern railroad tracks in the small Woodford County, IL community of Goodfield, even though the Illinois Dept. of Transportation allowed the community to repair the crossing (at its own expense) and detour traffic during the repair process 10 to 15 years ago.
This time, however – even though it is obvious the city will once again have to pay for the repairs, the Illinois DOT is balking at insuring Goodfield for any damage the detouring vehicles might inflict upon the streets of the detour route.
IDOT promised to cover the damages on the detour the last time the crossing was repaired, and no damage claim resulted. But things are obviously different now.
Meanwhile, the railroad is saying nothing, even though crossing surfaces are normally railroad responsibility.
The crossing’s current condition is so rough that truck trailers have become uncoupled from their tractors as they tried to cross NS tracks, and one Goodfield merchant, Jeff Schrock of Schrock’s Repair Service is reaping profit from motorists’ misfortunes.
“From that particular track, we’ve been up there on service calls for blown tires, bent rims, and it will actually bend an aluminum rim on low profile tires,” says Schrock.
According to Village Engineer Duane Yockey, the village’s other streets aren’t set up for the damage trucks can cause, and IDOT figures show that over 10% of traffic across the Route 117 crossing consists of heavy trucks (18 wheelers). “The passenger cars don’t really cause the damage,” attests Yockey.
IDOT Spokesman Brian Williamsen says “The issue is the payment of damages (even though there were none last time) on a local road. That’s the hang-up right now.”
In addition, neither Route 117 nor any of Goodfield’s three other crossings of NS tracks have gates, and one has no automatic warning whatsoever. The ones that do have only lights and bells.
And, strangely, Norfolk Southern still could not be reached for comment.