Williamsville - Work is underway this week in Sangamon and Logan counties to replace thousands of new, but substandard, concrete railroad ties along the Chicago to St. Louis Amtrak route.
Union Pacific, which owns the tracks used by passenger trains, has laid 495,000 concrete ties over the past two years on the route that will be used for high speed rail service. It has been determined 115,000 of those ties failed to meet standards for durability and are being replaced. The problem ties have not posed a safety risk.
WAND News observed work crews replacing ties and doing grading work Tuesday between Sherman and Williamsville.
The Illinois Department of Transportation says work on the high speed rail line has been progressing. "Work is continuing north of Bloomington - Normal. Some of the improvements include new rail, premium rail with concrete ties" said Josh Kauffman, IDOT spokesman.
Replacement of the concrete ties will not impact scheduled testing of a high speed Amtrak train this fall between Pontiac and Dwight. Trains will eventually be able to travel at speeds up to 110 mph. The current maximum speed is 79 mph.
The high speed rail project is part of a $1.5 billion upgrade. The line serves Amtrak stations in Bloomington, Lincoln and Springfield.