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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way
Major grade separation under way in Chicago, Illinois Gov. Quinn says

Yesterday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn marked the start of construction for a $146 million grade separation project in Chicago that’s part of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program.

To be built at the intersection of 130th Street, Torrence Avenue and a Norfolk Southern Railway line, the grade separation is a cornerstone of the CREATE program, Quinn said in a prepared statement.

“This major project will create thousands of jobs by improving the flow of goods and services through one of Chicago’s major manufacturing areas,” he said, adding that the grade separation will improve safety in the area.

To be completed in 2015, the project calls for lowering 130th Street and Torrence Avenue under two new bridges, which will be constructed to accommodate NS tracks. The intersection of the two streets and tracks currently cause more than 200 hours in delays for the 32,000 vehicles that drive through the crossing daily, said Quinn.

The project also calls for lowering Brainard Avenue to connect directly to 130th Street and Torrence Avenue, realigning the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s (NICTD) South Shore commuter-rail line over Torrence Avenue and NS’ tracks, and adding pedestrian bridges and paths.

The state will provide $64.8 million for the project through the “Illinois Jobs Now!” capital program. The remainder will be covered by funds from the federal government, city of Chicago, NS, NICTD and Ford Motor Co. Trucks leaving a nearby Ford assembly plant wait as long as 20 minutes at the crossing because of passing trains, Quinn said.

Developed through a public/private partnership, the CREATE program includes 70 projects — such as overpasses, underpasses, viaduct improvements, grade crossing enhancements, and track and signal upgrades — that are designed to restructure, modernize and expand the Chicago region’s passenger- and freight-rail network. Program partners include Amtrak, the Association of American Railroads, Belt Railway Co. of Chicago, BNSF Railway Co., CSX Transportation, CN, Canadian Pacific, Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co., Metra, NS, Union Pacific Railroad, and the Illinois and Chicago Departments of Transportation.