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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

Metra hopes to land TIGER grant to replace aging Elgin Bridge


Metra officials yesterday gave U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) a tour of the agency's aging, single-track Elgin Bridge to highlight the need to replace the structure, over which Milwaukee West Line trains cross the Fox River near Elgin, Ill.

Metra has applied for $17 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery VI (TIGER) grant dollars to help cover the $34 million cost of replacing the bridge, Metra officials said in a press release.

Metra is proposing to contribute $11 million, while Canadian Pacific — which also uses the bridge — is proposing to cover $6 million of the project's cost.

"Building a new bridge will help eliminate delays, create jobs, spur economic development and allow us to meet future needs along the Milwaukee West Line," said Metra Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Don Orseno.

Located about 35 miles from downtown Chicago, the 500-foot, single-track structure is used by 49 Metra trains and up to eight CP trains each weekday. Starting next year, Amtrak will begin using the bridge for trains traveling between Rockford and Chicago. The bridge also provides a "critical link" between the overnight train storage and maintenance yard in Elgin and the rest of the line, officials said.

The bridge was built in 1881. Half of its spans were replaced in 1905 and the other half, in 1926. Although the structure has been regularly maintained, many components are significantly deteriorated and can no longer be economically repaired, officials said.

In addition, the signal equipment dates from the 1950s, and needs to be updated so it is compliant with standards for a positive train control system, they said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/16/2014