EPA in Illinois

Sangamon Right of Way


EPA will oversee removal action by BNSF along the Sangamon right-of-way between 18th and 21st Streets. The right-of-way runs between private properties on the east (left) and the city sidewalk or street to the west (right).The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. will begin cleanup work along the Sangamon Street Right of Way site in the middle of June under EPA oversight. (See cleanup vehicles traffic plan for the site.) Workers will begin by putting up a fence and setting up support zones. The cleanup will involve removing lead-contaminated surface soil and hazardous material. The excavated area will be fenced off with temporary fencing, covered with a fabric material and backfilled with clean fill.

EPA signed an agreement in March with BNSF to clean up the Sangamon Street Right of Way site. The site is limited to BNSF’s right of way, which is in a residential area between 16th Street to the north and 21st Street to the south. The work that begins this summer is on the portion between 18th Street and 21st Street east of and adjacent to Sangamon Street and a sidewalk.

EPA and BNSF have been coordinating with the city of Chicago, which is planning the Paseo project after the cleanup is complete.

Site Background

The BNSF Sangamon Right of Way is located in Chicago and runs from 16th Street south along Sangamon Street to 21st Street. (map) Additional soil sampling was completed by BNSF in 2013 and 2014 to evaluate lead impacts along the BNSF right of way running from 21st Street north to 16th Street, which intersects the main BNSF rail lines. Based on the results of the soil samples, 33 soil boring locations on the BNSF right of way have total lead concentrations above the Removal Management Levels for industrial and residential values. Six sample locations are above the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure for lead of 5 mg/. This material will have to be managed as a hazardous waste. 

EPA signed an action memorandum documenting the site conditions and began negotiations to sign a consent order with BNSF railroad to complete the removal on September 8, 2015. The removal action will involve excavating contaminated soil and backfilling of the area with clean fill.

 The City of Chicago will follow the clean up action and is the planning stages of the El Paseo project which will be a green way with a walking path running along Sangamon street and the right of way.