Will there ever be a way to separate Burlington Northern-Santa Fe train and vehicular traffic in Riverside and/or Berwyn? 

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning has been compiling data and feedback from local, state and federal agencies as well as from the public since 2019 as part of its “Planning and Environmental Linkages” study.

That effort has led to the publication in March of CMAP’s Draft Purpose and Need report, which details the train/vehicular traffic issues along the BNSF line from Delaplaine Road in Riverside to Ridgeland Avenue in Berwyn, which along with other study documents can be found at engage.cmap.illinois.gov/berwyn-riverside-crossings.

On the heels of that report, CMAP will host a public meeting on June 7 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Riverside Township Hall, 27 Riverside Road, to inform citizens of what they’ve learned so far and receive feedback from the public.

The open house will be conducted in English and Spanish, and among those who will be there to answer questions will be the study’s project manager, Tom Murtha of CMAP, project consultants and engineers, representatives from the Cook County Department of Transportation and other agencies.

There won’t be any illustrations of possible grade-separation options – that’s still to come. The purpose of the meeting is to review with the public the needs for all modes of transportation through the study area, to lay out the project’s goals and get public input.

“The big issues are there, but we don’t know if we will come up with an alternative when weighing the cost and the effects of a project on the community,” Murtha told the Landmark in a phone interview last week. “People may look at this and say, ‘We don’t want this.’”

At the open house, the public will be able to see what the Draft Purpose and Need document lays out. The issues include not only extended gate closures which delay motorists, pedestrians and emergency vehicles. 

In addition to delays that make people late for work and other appointments, they also impact where people choose to do business or shop. They also create safety hazards for motorists and pedestrians.

The June 7 open house is just one of several public meetings to come in the future as alternatives are developed and vetted, said Murtha.

“The whole idea here is to consider a wide variety of alternatives and look at each one … and then screen all of them – what’s the cost and impact on properties – and narrow it down more and more to alternatives that might work,” Murtha said.

Comments can also be submitted by email to Murtha at TMurtha@cmap.illinois.gov. Those received by July 10 will become part of the officials record.