The Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad has awarded a $12,708 grant to the village of Riverside in order to install four high-definition, color surveillance cameras at the downtown train depot later this year.
The cameras will monitor the train station around the clock, said Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, whose department worked with the railroad to obtain the grant funding. According to Weitzel, the cameras will likely be motion-activated and will be wired directly to the new West Central Consolidated Communications (WC3) dispatch center in North Riverside.
“The cameras will provide 24-hour surveillance if we need it and will be motion activated,” said Weitzel. The cameras will give commuters a sense of security and they will give us an investigative tool to follow up [in response to any incidents].”
Weitzel said signage announcing the cameras’ presence may also help deter criminal incidents at the station.
Police sought the cameras after the BNSF discontinued having a ticket agent onsite for the morning commute in June 2016.
“When they announced they’d no longer have a ticket agent, we met with the railroad and asked, ‘What are we going to do about early commuters?'” Weitzel said.
A Riverside public works employee unlocks the door to the station every morning at 5:30 and locks it back up later in the day. But other than that, there’s no one actually monitoring what’s happening inside the station, which now also houses an exhibit on Riverside history, and on the platform.
It took months to negotiate the grant details, said Weitzel. In the end, BNSF agreed to pay for all of the upfront costs related to purchasing and installing the cameras. The village will be responsible for maintaining the system once it’s up and running.
Weitzel said the plan was for the cameras, three of which will be placed inside the station, to be installed and in operation within 90 to 120 days.
A major train station roof replacement project which likely will start in April shouldn’t affect the installation of the cameras, said Public Works Director Edward Bailey.
“I don’t see any conflicts between the two projects,” Bailey said.
The Riverside Village Board has awarded an $886,190 contract to Bennett and Brosseau Roofing Inc., of Romeoville, for the work. The majority of the project is being funded by two grants, one from the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program and one from Metra.
Other repairs to the platform, including removal and reinstallation of brick pavers, replacing hand railings and repairing the concrete bases of columns that support the roof, are being done this year as well. That work is being funded by a $235,000 grant from the West Suburban Mass Transit District.