Plans to improve busy road backed up

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SAVOY, Ill. (WCIA) — Village leaders have been trying for years to bring improvements to Curtis Road.

They applied for a federal grant to make the railroad crossing safer and more traffic-friendly.

However, they just found out for the second time, the application was denied.

If you talk to people in Savoy, they will tell you one of their biggest concerns is traffic, especially when there’s a train. Village leaders say the delay could potentially cause an even bigger problem.

If there’s a train, and firefighters need to get to a call on the east side of the tracks, it’s a setback that could mean the difference between life and death.

That’s because the fire department is on the west side of the tracks, while many people, including Gui Maia, are on the east.

“You have to get an ambulance in time, but they have to get stuck behind a train,” said Maia. “It’s a really bad situation.”

“If we have an emergency service on the east side of the tracks, and there’s a train coming through, the closest way we can go around to get to that is actually a longer delay than what it takes to get to that point in town anyway,” said Savoy public works director Levi Kopmann.

That’s one reason Kopmann wants to fight to make the tracks a bridge overpass. That way, traffic and first responders can pass through, while a train passes over.

That’s not the only improvement the village has its eyes on.

“This was supposed to be a gateway to the university,” explained Kopmann. “All the communities agreed they’d benefit from it. I think the project’s been in the works since the 1980s. As Savoy has grown over the years, half our population is on the east side of the railroad tracks, and the other half is on the west side of the railroad tracks.”

With the U of I to the east, and the ever-expanding Fields developments to the west, people we spoke with say Curtis Road is an artery, and it needs to be stronger.

“Traffic has just increased tremendously since the Carle facility opened up, and I think it’s really going to cause some problems.”

Kopmann said state legislators see the issues with the road and are working with village leaders to try to get the funding for it.

Village leaders also want to add sidewalks and bike lanes to the Savoy portion of Curtis Road. You may see crews out there resealing and resurfacing parts of it. Kopmann says that would’ve been done either way.

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