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Thursday, February 21, 2013    

Another CREATE grade separation gets under way near Chicago


Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Ann Schneider and other state and local officials broke ground Tuesday for a grade separation in Bensenville, Ill., that's part of the Chicago Regional Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program.

Funded through the state's "Illinois Jobs Now" capital program, the $67 million project calls for constructing a rail flyover over Irving Park Road to eliminate a grade crossing and help speed up the flow of freight trains and auto traffic on the southwestern edge of O'Hare International Airport, state officials said in a press release. An average of 25 freight trains pass through the crossing each day, delaying 6,400 vehicles.

"Anyone who is familiar with the Bensenville area knows that this grade crossing is a huge frustration for motorists," said Quinn. "We're eliminating this roadblock to save drivers from thousands of hours stuck in traffic every year, all the while creating jobs and paving the way for more economic growth."

Known as CREATE project GS16, the grade separation includes reconstructing intersections by late winter 2015 and constructing a bridge for Canadian Pacific tracks by late fall 2014. Irving Park Road will be lowered and a CP rail bridge will be raised to provide more vertical clearance. The structure is proposed as a 131-foot single-span bridge with closed abutments.

The project involves a partnership that includes the village of Bensenville, DuPage County, the city of Chicago's O'Hare Modernization Program, CP and Metra. The project is being coordinated with the construction of a grade separation of a Union Pacific Railroad line over Irving Park Road near O'Hare.

The $3.2 billion CREATE program involves about 70 projects designed to separate freight and passenger trains at six key junctions in the Chicago area, increase rail capacity, speed and reliability, and eliminate 25 grade crossings. The program is managed by a public-private partnership among Amtrak, the Association of American Railroads, BNSF Railway Co., Belt Railway Co. of Chicago, Chicago DOT, CP, CN, CSX Transportation, IDOT, Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co., Metra, Norfolk Southern Railway, UP and the U.S. DOT.

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