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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

Rail, government officials mark 75th Street Corridor project in Chicago

"America's railroads are here for the long haul, as we continue to advance rail in Chicago," said AAR's Edward Hamberger, who attended yesterday's ceremony in Chicago.
Photo – AAR's Twitter account


U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner yesterday joined other public officials and rail industry representatives at a ceremony to mark the funding of the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project in Chicago.

The $474 million project is a linchpin in the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program, which aims to eliminate a chokepoint at a critical South Side Chicago junction for freight and passenger trains.

When completed in 2025, the project is expected to yield $3.8 billion in new economic benefits by eliminating conflicts and increasing capacity in one of the busiest U.S. rail intersections, according to a press release issued by Rauner's office.

"It is the culmination of years of teamwork and planning by industry and government that will result in more efficient and more productive flows of goods, services and people in our region and in the nation as a whole," said Rauner.

In June, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the project would receive $132 million under the federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program. The federal grant was the final component needed to complete the project's funding package.

Also contributing to the project's funding are $111 million from the state of Illinois; $116 million from the freight-rail industry; $78 million from Cook County; $28 million from Amtrak and Metra; and $9 million from the city of Chicago.

According to CREATE, the investment will eliminate 32,000 annual passenger hours of delay from rail travel in the region.

Also attending yesterday's ceremony was Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger, who praised the CREATE program for bringing public and private sector partners to the table to address a major infrastructure problem.

"We are all committed to improving service for both Chicago rail commuters and freight customers nationwide, and this project dramatically moves the ball forward by untangling one of the most congested points in the U.S. rail network," Hamberger said. "America's railroads are here for the long haul, as we continue to advance rail in Chicago."

The 75th Street Corridor Improvement effort features the following projects: the Forest Hill flyover; the 71st Street road and rail grade separation; the Belt Junction and 80th Street Junction replacements; the Rock Island connection; and the Argo connections.

Earlier this summer, CREATE officials held a program briefing to highlight the project's major milestones, Progressive Railroading reported in July.