After over two years of review, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) Hearing process to obtain approval for the new Olympian Drive bridge over the Illinois Central Canadian National Railroad is nearing completion. On October 20, 2011, the City of Urbana, the City of Champaign, and Champaign County (i.e. Joint Petitioners) filed a Joint Petition to construct the bridge and use Illinois Grade Crossing Protection Funds in the amount of $7.8 million for the project. An ICC Hearing process was required because the project would construct a new railroad grade separation structure and Grade Crossing Protection Funds were requested for construction. The ICC Hearing process allows all parties to review and approve the proposed bridge design elements and clearances, approach grades, and funding. As part of this process, outside parties can intervene and raise objections.
The Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois Central Railroad, and ICC staff had no objections to the joint petition. However, Preserve Olympian Farmland, a group of 27 objectors mostly consisting of land and business owners along Lincoln Avenue, are opposed to the project. The group obtained legal representation and filed a motion to intervene in the ICC Hearing process for the new bridge. On December 19, 2013, after over two years of testimony, evidentiary review, a site visit, expert and lay witness testimony, and various motions, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) assigned to the case marked it “Heard and Taken.”
On January 8, 2014, the ALJ entered a Proposed Order finding in favor of the Joint Petitioners and granting the petition to construct a bridge over the Illinois Central railroad tracks. The full Commission is expected to make a ruling on the Proposed Order next month, tentatively scheduled for their Bench Session on February 19th.