By Bob Uphues
Anticipating a commuter nightmare later this week when construction will close the Prairie Avenue railroad crossing in Brookfield, village officials are encouraging commuters and residents generally to make alternate travel plans between June 15 and June 23.
The Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad crossing at Prairie Avenue will be closed to all traffic – vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian – during construction, which will raise the crossing itself by three inches.
Village officials are urging commuters to, if they can, use the Congress Park and Hollywood Avenue train stations. The Hollywood train station is ADA-accessible. Any ADA customers needing transportation to the Hollywood station should call 312-322-7366.
The village has also posted orange signs along Brookfield Avenue east of Arden Avenue and on Burlington Avenue west of Arthur Avenue notifying those choosing to drive to the Hollywood and Congress Park stations, but who don't have permits, that they will be able to park without penalty along those streets during construction.
The "no permit needed" parking will be along the railroad side of the street only, and ought to free up 50 to 60 parking spaces to commuters seeking an alternative to using the Prairie Avenue station.
Two temporary handicapped-parking spaces will be added to the north side of the tracks at the Hollywood stop. In addition, the village has borrowed bike racks from Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 that will be added temporarily at the Hollywood and Congress Park stations.
"I don't want to make things harder on anyone by writing tickets to people who are just trying to park wherever they can to manage the week," said Police Chief James Episcopo.
Police will provide personnel to assist with traffic control at rush-hour times at the Maple Avenue crossing, and Brookfield and BNSF officers will be patrolling the area around the Prairie Avenue crossing to make sure commuters aren't trying to cross the tracks.
In a letter to residents, Episcopo said temporary snow fencing will be erected along the railroad right of way to prevent people from illegal crossings.
"At the end of the day, your safety is all we care about," Episcopo said in his letter. "Please don't become another statistic. Do whatever you have to do to make alternate plans for your commute, and allow a little extra time."
Finally, Pace Bus Route 331 will be detoured during construction. The southbound bus on Maple Avenue will not cross the tracks. Instead, the bus will head east on Brookfield Avenue from Maple Avenue to the Brookfield Village Hall before completing its regular route.