Main Street detours start March 1 for Galesburg underpass project

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GALESBURG, Illinois -- Construction starts March 1, 2017, on a $17.5 million underpass project along Main Street in Galesburg.

That means traffic detours will be in place for more than a year on Main Street between Chambers Street and Allens Avenue.

"I think the number one thing is to have patience," said Ken Springer, president of the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development.  "It's going to be a long project. It's a major project."

In a town historically linked to the railroad, drivers must wait for about 150 trains each day.

Niki White knows all about the delays.

"I waited and waited," she said.  "Finally, I had to turn around."

That will be changing. By June 2018, traffic should be able to travel under the trains on Main Street.

It will join two other overpasses that were built to connect Galesburg in recent years.

"Won't be as frustrating for those who have to be from one place to another," said passenger Charlotte Pearson.

With walls already coming down on early demolition work, it's a way to preview the changes.

The end result will be very important for first responders. They know that every second counts.

"It is our standard procedure now to leave the station and make an effort to use those overpasses, so that we know we won't have to worry about a train," said Battalion Chief Brad Stevenson, Galesburg Fire Department.

After more than a year of work, waiting for a train should become a thing of the past. Traffic and trains will operate together on Main Street.

That sounds good to drivers like Niki White.

"This is our way to get to the main part of town," she said.

"I hope that traffic from other places will come through here," added Pearson.

For them, underpass construction will be worth the wait for a new gateway to Galesburg.

"If everybody can keep a cool head, follow the signage and detours, it's going to be great," Springer concluded.