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Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program partners and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials have announced the availability of a combined Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) for the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project.The issuance of a ROD by the FHWA marks the completion of a process to identify and minimize or mitigate the project's potential impacts to the community and natural resources. In addition, the publication of the combined Final EIS and ROD by the FHWA represents a major step forward for the CREATE program and, specifically, the 75th Street project, program officials said in a press release. The program's largest project, the 75th Street improvements (CREATE projects P2, P3, EW2 and GS19) involve two passenger-rail and four freight-rail lines in the Chicago-area communities of Ashburn, Auburn Gresham, Englewood and West Chatham.The project will address conflicts in the area between CSX Transportation, Belt Railway Co. of Chicago (BRC), Norfolk Southern Railway, Union Pacific Railroad and Metra. The work might involve reconfiguring BRC's main tracks between the Dan Ryan and Belt Junction, where four freight railroads conflict with each other and Metra's SouthWest Service operations. In addition, a second main track for the SouthWest Service operations might be built from near Wrightwood Station to Western Avenue.Other work under consideration includes reconfiguring and building a third main BRC track; constructing a flyover to connect the Metra SouthWest Service to the Rock Island Line; constructing a bridge that significantly reduces conflicts between CSX and BRC, Metra and NS; and building a grade separation involving 71st Street and a CSX line.The 75th Street Corridor Improvement project would eliminate the most congested rail chokepoint in the Chicago terminal district — the Belt Junction — where more than 80 Metra and freight trains cross each other’s paths daily, according to a project fact sheet. The flyover at 75th Street would eliminate conflict between 30 Metra trains and 35 freight trains operating on the Western Avenue Corridor, while the construction of an additional mainline for Metra and the flyover connection would help reduce congestion and freight conflicts.Meanwhile, NS and Metra officials, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and other dignitaries are scheduled to attend a dedication ceremony Oct. 23 in Chicago for the CREATE program's Englewood Flyover.The $133 million project — which began in October 2011 — involved the construction of a triple-track bridge in Englewood, Ill., to carry three of Metra’s Rock Island District Line tracks over four NS tracks. The CREATE program's second-largest project, the flyover will eliminate a chokepoint where NS and Metra tracks intersect.The program's public/private partners include Amtrak, the Association of American Railroads, BRC, BNSF Railway Co., CSX, CN, Canadian Pacific, Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co., Metra, NS, UP, and the Illinois and Chicago Departments of Transportation.
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