23275 IDOT Ash Street underpass photo1It’s no secret that cities are better when they’re efficient and less divided. One infrastructure project in Springfield that attempts to increase efficiency and bring neighborhoods together was recognized by the American Public Work Association.

On Monday, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced that the APWA had selected the Ash Street underpass in Springfield as one of its “Project of the Year.” This award recognizes achievement in management and administration of public works projects across the United States.

The award went to the Ash Street underpass project, which was an overhaul of the intersection of Ash Street and the 10th Street rail corridor. The underpass replaced a crossing and helped to improve rail travel along the Chicago-to-St. Louis corridor, while ensuring that the east and west halves of Springfield are less divided by the city’s railways.

The new underpass includes a four-lane street with safe space for pedestrians. The improvements also upgraded the rail for the Norfolk Southern Railroad and created new tracks for the Union Pacific Railroad. Additional tracks will also help allow for higher capacity of both passenger and freight trains in the future.

"The Ash Street underpass is an illustration of progress for Springfield that improves pedestrian and vehicular access and safety through this east-west transportation corridor," Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder said. "This recognition shows that when all levels of government work in partnership with the private sector - for the betterment of community and its residents - the end result is success."

The Ash Street project is one of several underpasses being constructed in Springfield to help reduce the divide in the city caused by present and future increases in rail traffic. Additional underpasses are planned at Madison and Jefferson streets, and another has already been built on Carpenter Street.

The projects represent a strong partnership between the railways, IDOT, the city of Springfield and Hanson Professional Services Inc., which is overseeing the projects’ construction.