Carbondale Railroad Relocation Authority. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
The Carbondale Railroad Relocation Authority was established by the Illinois General Assembly in 1965 to help Carbondale deal with severe traffic tie-ups caused by the fact that the Illinois Central Railroad tracks bisect the town and Southern Illinois University. The problem has been compounded as the university and the town have grown rapidly. In 1963, communication began between university president Delyte W. Morris and the railroad in an effort to find a solution to the problem. As a result, the Carbondale Railroad Relocation Authority was established by House Bill 2172 introduced by Clyde Choate, and enacted by the 74th General Assembly of 1965, to "provide the necessary legal powers and operating expenses."
An appropriation of $15,000 was awarded to the authority. According to the bill, two members of the authority were to be appointed by the governor, one member appointed by the Carbondale City Council, one member by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors, and one member by the President of SIU. On January 6, 1966, the governor appointed Dr. Leo Brown and Frank A. Kirk to the authority to serve terms of two years. Other members appointed were D. Blaney Miller, Mayor, representing the City Council; Archie Stroup of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors; and John Rendleman from the university.
The first meeting of the authority was held on Fevruary 5, 1966. Frank Kirk was elected chairman. The authority contracted with De Leuw, Cather, & Company of Chicago to conduct an engineering study of the feasibility of the relocation. Reports by De Leuw, Cather, & Company were distributed April 24, 1967 and the authority subsequently met with the president of the railroad on July 7, 1967. At this meeting, the president urged the authority to "continue and speed up its studies and formulate a plan that would draw some assistance from Federal and/or State sources."
The 75th General Assembly again appropriated $15,000 for the authority. The City of Carbondale appropriate $2,000, which was matched by an equal amount from the university.
On June 22, 1968, Rendleman resigned from the authority, and was replaced by George Fleerage, who was elected Vice Chairman.
A final report from De Leuw, Cather, & Company concerning the possibility of depressing the railroad tracks was accepted July 8, 1968. Further studies led the authority to conclude that it would be economically infeasible to either relocate or depress the tracks at that time.
In a letter from Leo Brown to Frank Kirk, March 24, 1969, Brown suggests ending the Railroad Relocation Authority due to "default on the part of the legislature to continue appropriation and continue its activities." Senator John. G. Gilbert of Carbondale filed a bill on March 26 to dissolve the authority.