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Illinois federal, state and Chicago officials late last week announced a $1.25 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that will be used for a grade separation project in Chicago that is part of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program.The grant will fund design and engineering services to construct a grade separation for Union Pacific Railroad's double track main line that crosses 95th Street at Eggleston Avenue in Chicago. On a typical day, the crossing handles 24 UP and CSX trains and two Amtrak trains, as well as 24,000 motor vehicles and 700 buses, according to a press release issued by CREATE.The Chicago Department of Transportation and Illinois Department of Transportation received the funding, which was issued as part of the FRA's Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) by Rail Program. CREATE competed against applicants for a share of $10 million in funding to improve grade crossings and track along routes that transport energy products including crude oil and ethanol.CREATE's grant award was announced by U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), IDOT and Chicago city officials."Separating train traffic from vehicle traffic is first and foremost a safety issue — not just for those crossing the tracks, but for those who are counting on first-responders to make it through traffic during an emergency," said Durbin. "Chicago is the center of rail transportation in the Midwest and while that boosts economic activity, it can slow down surrounding communities that have to deal with increases in traffic and noise, and pose safety issues from trains carrying hazardous material such as crude oil.CREATE is a partnership that includes the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Metra, Amtrak and the nation's freight railroads. The program is designed to eliminate freight-rail and motor vehicle bottlenecks, boost northeastern Illinois' economy and improve the region's overall safety and environment.
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