Normal’s Lavish Lunacy

By:  Diane Benjamin

I’ve talked to some residents of Normal who don’t understand Normal’s desire for an underpass at the Amtrak station.  WJBC has a nice picture of where they want to put it – between the Amtrak station and the Children’s Discovery Museum.

Last October Normal spent another $1.4 million to “study” the best approach.  Normal can’t decide between an overpass for around $6 million and the underpass for more than $10 million.  Source

Nobody has asked the obvious question:  Why do they need either?  This picture shows the “problem” they are trying to solve.  Two sets of tracks exist, meaning passengers can be dropped off on either side.

platformI took this pic standing on the at-grade crossing on Broadway.  Passengers currently dropped off on the south side can exit the platform south or take the sidewalk to Broadway.  It’s not very far, I thought the “new urbanism” meant walking!

Normal wants to spend MILLIONS to fix a problem that isn’t much of a problem.  Building either an overpass or an underpass creates more problems because making either ADA compliant will require elevators and the maintenance involved.  The Normal Council and Mayor need to explain why anything has to be done!

More Uptown lunacy:

In case you didn’t know, Amtrak riders can not be dropped off in front of the station.  Cars are expected to enter the parking garage, take a parking ticket, then drive to the second floor.

The driver then exits the garage by scanning the ticket back on the main floor.  The paper ticket is now a piece of garbage.

I think this picture is the original signage:

nostop2Maybe people couldn’t see it, so now Normal has sandwich-board signs on the sidewalk:

nostop sign1


This silly design has an easy fix. The entire lower level of the parking garage is for buses and taxes. Traffic can only enter from Broadway, there are two lanes available. Why can’t people dropping off passengers can’t use the same path? The buses I observed left mostly or completely empty, I didn’t see any taxis.

Normal claims to be environmentally friendly – this option spares a parking ticket and the wear to the parking garage driving to the second floor.

It also doesn’t make Normal look stupid for approving such a poor design!  The current design does.

Wasting your money should be a huge campaign issue.

Ask the candidates where they stand!


22 thoughts on “Normal’s Lavish Lunacy

  1. The Metra train stations in DuPage County made the rails pedestrian friendly. So if you exited on the south side, you wait for train to leave and walk across the tracks to the station. Why wouldn’t this work?

  2. I guess we shouldn’t EXPECT millennials to get off their iPODS or phones long enough to LOOK both ways and maybe notice that a train MIGHT be coming!! And this is what OUR two cities want to pander to? Maybe the colleges should teach SELF PRESERVATION. Seems like folks 10 years ago (or even 100 years ago) had NO PROBLEM with crossing tracks and looking for trains. Have we gotten THAT dumb? If so, we NEED some thinning. UPTOWN just wants to look fancy and SPEND more of OUR money-bottom line.

  3. As I was returning from a trip to Champaign last week, I turned to the friend in the passenger seat and said, “McLean County ahead – turn you watches back ten years and lower your IQ by 20 points and you will fit right in” You just can’t fix stupid and we have a whole lot of stupid going on this this area.

  4. I’ve often said the Amtrak station should have been moved to the west side of Bloomington where there is more available space and more centrally located. Yes know students use the train but public transportation should fill that need. We all know this will never happen.

    Is this a new found problem or something that has been known ever since that Amtrak station was put there? Gee someone missed that one if they didn’t already know it.

    Obviously they are after the federal money it appears to me is the push. That’s like getting free money into their cash flow. We all know that it isn’t free. Someone has to pay for it.

    1. The media never noticed a problem. The space between the two building was obviously intentional, so the overpass or underpass plan has been there from the beginning. It’s just that nobody questioned the need for either.

    2. They should just bite the bullet and move the train station. 1.4 million and the cost of the new train station would have made a very nice train station somewhere else. They are tring to put 5 pounds of crap into a 4 pound bad downtown. And YES its downtown not uptown.

      1. I hate the uptown crap too… It is just so pretentious…What we are now to good to be called downtown now? Hey it will always be downtown to me and once the education bubble bursts and students stop coming we will be able to call it deadtown Normal.

  5. Wealth redistribution is when planners plan how to take the taxpayers money. Seems thats all they are good for. Look at the planners in Normal. A history of mistakes, didn’t plan for this or that. Incompetent reigns supreme under the King Koos Kouncil.

  6. How about you just get off the train on whichever side you parked or are being picked up at? Anyone using the trail can bike/walk/jog to Linden or Broadway to go around. Boom, problem solved. Normal can pay me a small “consulting” fee.

  7. Wait a minute. Does that sign with the $30 fine meet the Town of Normal’s sign code? I think not! And I think that anyone could protest a received ticket based on this sign and win the arguement. Again, more lunacy! What a joke, using a sandwich board for an official traffic notice. Morons!

  8. And what is the purpose of the very expensive fancy fence extending from Fell to Main St beside throwing more tax money at the unions? Keeping idiot students from drunkenly wandering onto the tracks? When was the last time someone was struck by a train? And what was the cost?

    1. The last time a student was struck was 8-10 years ago, in the day time. They weren’t drunk, they had the headphones in and weren’t paying attention. The point? You can’t fix stupid.

  9. Have to argue with the “Can’t fix stupid” lines here. In the old days some miners in the wintertime would thaw their dynamite in hot sand, stove coals or on the stove, and YES there were some bad results!! MORAL of the story-there isn’t much of anything a WELL PLACED charge of high explosives can’t solve.

  10. Build the “overpass” off the 2nd or 3rd floor of the parking garage. There is already elevators going to the parking garage. It’s already got enuff clearance for trains to pass under. Instead of building an entire overpass, they only have to build 3/4 of it. Thnk of the cost savings.

  11. Does anyone besides me see a conflict of interest with the current mayor pushing to open up with an underpass to south of the tracks which would bring more potential customers nearer to the bike shop, not to mention all the money spent on bike trails and the reconfiguration of streets for bike lanes ?

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