NORMAL (WEEK) - After years of debate, the Town of Normal has approved a nearly $24 million underpass providing pedestrians and bike riders a below-ground place to cross Union Pacific train tracks.
After some heated discussion, town council members Monday night voted 6-1 in favor of accepting federal grant money to build the connector beneath railroad tracks near Uptown Station.
The grant covers 93% of the $24 million estimated cost...with the local government's share at almost $1.7 million.
Opponents of the project think the cost will be higher than that.
"The current estimate is pre-virus and doubtless low by probably millions of dollars which taxpayers will be on the hook for," said Karl Sila, who ran unsuccessfully for a town council seat earlier this year.
Former Town Council member Cheryl Gaines urged the current council to support the project.
"If we don't accept this, Normal's not going to get any grant money from anybody ever again," said Gaines.
The only no vote came from Town Council member Stan Nord. He considers the underpass a "luxury" item compared to higher priorities like infrastructure improvements. Some other members, namely Kathleen Lorenz and Scott Preston, appeared hesitant before they voted yes.