Int’l Terminal Design Change Prompted By New Florida Route

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WEEK TV-25 is reporting that the decision by Allegiant Air to add twice-weekly nonstop flights from Peoria to Sanford (Orlando) Florida on November 14 is prompting changes to the proposed International Terminal at the Peoria Int’l Airport.

More specifically –

Airport Director Gene Olson says the new international terminal will provide an additional gate that can be used for domestic or international travel. He says Allegiant may need to use it for its fifth route.

“Allegiant has told us that they’re considering putting two aircraft on the ground at the same time which helps them with scheduling quite a bit and that has implications for some design features of the building,” [Director of Airports  Gene] Olson said.

Although details are scarce, I take this to mean that the new terminal will have three gates, rather than the two shown in artist’s renderings. Judging by the size of the proposed facility, there should be room.

The article, posted Wednesday afternoon, informs us that the airport authority voted against selecting a contractor. Presumably, one will be selected when the design changes are approved. Yet, I’m not following the logic here.

Olson said Allegiant’s changes could speed up construction for the new terminal building. A decision on a contractor could come in October.

Approval was expected in August. Now that has been delayed to October. This means the new international terminal/FIS won’t be finished until January 2016 at the earliest (based on a 15-month construction schedule). Rumors are that this construction was prompted by Allegiant Air’s plans to offer Cancun and possibly some Caribbean nonstops from many U. S. cities like Peoria. Such service is seasonal, from late December through February or into March. Unforseen circumstances such as weather could delay the start of service for another year. But I guess Allegiant Air can still use the new facility in the meantime…

Besides rumored seasonal nonstops to Mexico and/or the Caribbean on Allegiant Air, I’d love to see nonstop charters to Europe during the summer months, like we had on American Trans Air in the late 1980s. The new terminal is being designed to accommodate aircraft as large as a 757 (which Allegiant Air also has), but Europe charters will probably require larger aircraft such as a 767 or an A-330.

– David P. Jordan

Atterbury Elevator Track Under Construction!

The new elevator siding at Atterbury, Illinois is under construction. When finished – probably by early fall – Prairieland FS will ship 25-car blocks of corn or soybeans to processors via the Illinois & Midland Railroad. See comments below. Click thumbnails for larger view.

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I took this May 26, 2014 from Hardin Avenue looking southeast toward the elevator. Grading for the new rail siding began a few weeks later.

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August 23, 2014: Same view as above, the grade for the new siding is finished and the railcar loader appears complete.

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August 23, 2014: This view looks northwest from Hardin Avenue. Crossties are being laid.

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August 23, 2014: From Atterbury Street, looking southeast, view shows track in place. No switches have been built yet, though materials are stored nearby.

– David P. Jordan

Rapid Progress on the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad’s new West Yard

Much progress has been made on the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad’s new West Yard. See comments below, and click thumbnails for larger view.

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This shot from the Cedar Street Bridge was taken Sunday afternoon, August 24, 2014. Note a short section of track near the Volvo excavator has been removed to make room for track realignment.

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August 25, 2014: What a difference a day makes! Much of the main track (middle) and long siding have been torn out from near Edmund Street. Contractors have fabricated turnouts. One is in place, another soon will be. What may be the new main track is mostly covered with ballast.

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August 25, 2014: Looking the other direction, the turnout for the shorter siding is in place. Another can barely be seen near Persimmon Street (below).

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August 25, 2014: Turnout which was fabricated by contractors on Monday. It will likely be set about where the two new tracks seen below end.

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August 25, 2014: The old West Yard is at left, the new is in center. The iconic ADM Grain Company’s terminal elevator and Archer Daniels Midland distillery are in the background.

– David P. Jordan

Ask Peoria Station

Look for more posts this week, including the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad’s West Yard relocation and new Atterbury elevator siding. Meanwhile it is time for another “Ask Peoria Station.” As always, feel free to ask any transportation-related question. If I don’t an answer, I’ll find one.

– David P. Jordan

Public Meeting For Prototype Amtrak Bus Route (Updated)

 

Public Meeting – Amtrak Bus Shuttle

On Thursday, August 21, the City of Peoria will be hosting a public meeting to discuss the possible Amtrak shuttle bus route to Bloomington. Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich and Peoria Public Works Director Mike Rogers will be speaking. Results from the meeting will help determine a November-March prototype bus shuttle route to the Amtrak train station.

What: Amtrak Shuttle Bus Route

When: Thursday, August 21, 2014

6:00 – 7:00 pm

Where: The Gateway Building
Ballroom, Third Floor
200 NE Water Street
Peoria IL 61602

If you have any questions or comments regarding the meeting, please contact the Public Works Department at (3093) 494-8805.

– David P. Jordan

[Chillicothe] Media Covers Sep. 13 Train Rides

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At least one local media outlet has noticed upcoming train rides.

Today’s Chillicothe Times-Bulletin contains two stories on the Iowa Interstate Railroad’s Henry-Chillicothe excursions planned for Saturday, September 13. One story, All aboard called for Sept. 13 train ride, covers the Henry-Chillicothe excursions. The other, Depot Museum to be busy Sept. 13, mentions the effect on the Chillicothe Historical Society museum at the old Rock Island depot.

A flyer for the event is online with the first article. It should also be noted that it confirms the depot museum is where riders can board the train for a trip to Henry and back.

Finally, a little history. The first article says, Chillicothe Park District President Mike Krost said he cannot recall how long it has been that passenger trains stopped in town.

Mike, if you’re reading this, the last passenger trains to stop in town was Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, which ran daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, on July 31, 1996. Before that, the Rock Island’s Peoria Rocket, which ran daily between Peoria and Chicago, made its final revenue roundtrip on December 31, 1978.

– David P. Jordan

Gritty, Industrial Railroading Part IX

I’ve already featured Canadian National Railway’s “Peoria Local,” but am doing so again for a good reason.

My May 24 encounter showed this train only switching Amerhart Ltd’s warehouse at Pekin’s Riverway Business Park. Yesterday, I caught it switching both Amerhart Ltd. and Hanna Steel Corp.

Train L56191 departed the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad’s East Peoria Yard about 6:00 Monday evening. I drove along Wesley Road to one of my favorite spots and waited for the train’s passage. I’d decide whether it was worth capturing on video.

A train of nine empty covered hoppers and three alcohol tank cars is ho-hum, but the locomotive pulling them caught my eye. It was Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railway SD38-2 No. 664, recently painted in Canadian National colors.

So I decided to chase it. Shorter days this time of year means more shadows, so my options were limited unless I wanted to chase the train south of Pekin. I ended up shooting video at Winter Street. This is where I noticed two CSXT cushion coil cars parking on a siding, indicating the local would switch Hanna Steel.

I was right. I waited at Hanna Drive for awhile until the train grabbed the steel cars, added them to the other 12 cars and pulled them south. They delivered them to Hanna Steel and then pulled an empty boxcar from Amerhart before leaving town.

The video lasts 10 minutes and 50 seconds. Hope you enjoy.

– David P. Jordan

Orlando-Sanford Flights Begin November 14! (Updated)

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Let’s hope that third time’s the charm.

Allegiant Air announced this morning that will begun (resume) nonstop flights between Peoria and Orlando-Sanford on November 14. There will be two flights a week.

The Peoria Journal Star has the story here. Unfortunately, they royally !@#$%^&* up Allegiant Air’s history serving Peoria.

The company began operating out of Peoria in 2006 with flights to Tampa Bay, Fla., and has since added flights to both Las Vegas and Phoenix.

No. Allegiant Air began serving Peoria on March 3, 2004 with service to Las Vegas. It added Orlando-Sanford in May 2005 (dropped at the end of November 2005 but resumed November 2007 to August 2008) and St. Petersburg/Clearwater in December 2006. Flights to Phoenix (Mesa) started in 2007.

Fortunately, WMBD TV-31’s website has better coverage. It also mentions that Allegiant Air is to begin nonstop flights from Bloomington-Normal (CIRA) to St. Petersburg/Clearwater on November 21, also twice weekly.

UPDATE: The expanded PJStar article (still not corrected) says flights will operate Mondays and Fridays. The Pantagraph notes that CIRA flights to St. Petersburg/Clearwater will start on Mondays and Fridays but will switch to Wednesdays and Saturdays in January.

David P. Jordan

BNSF Peoria Local – 2 Days In A Row


BNSF Railway’s westbound L-CHI107 (“Peoria Local”) approaches Sanger St. in Peoria, Illinois early Thursday evening, August 14, 2014, shortly after crossing the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad’s Illinois River lift bridge. BNSF B40-8s 506 and 530 are on the point of the 32-car train. Note 18th car is a C&NW boxcar!


BNSF Railway’s westbound L-CHI107 (“Peoria Local”) approaches crosses the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad’s Illinois River lift bridge then “races” toward home rails at Darst Street in Peoria, Illinois early Friday evening, August 15, 2014. BNSF B40-8s 530 and 506 are on the point of the 13-car train.

– David P. Jordan

Peoria Rail Yard Relocation Underway

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The Tazewell & Peoria Railroad’s “West Yard” is moving.

But not far. New tracks are being built about half way between the existing three-track yard (left in above photo) and the old BNSF yard (right in above photo) under the Cedar Street Bridge.

The relocation allows Archer Daniels Midland Co. to double its grain truck staging capacity. The project spawned from the narrowing and reconstruction of SW Washington Street for the Warehouse District. Previously, ADM grain trucks lined up in the median waiting to unload at the elevator.

These photos show that the contractor is laying a main track and a siding with space for a shorter third track. Railcar capacity will probably equal the old West Yard.

When I first learned of plans for railroad relocation, I assumed that the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad would acquire the old BNSF property and have a contractor remove the old tracks and lay new ones in their place. Apparently, BNSF is keeping its remaining property for now.

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– David P. Jordan