Illinois awards $241M to freight projects

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, Editor, Railway Track & Structures; and Engineering Editor, Railway Age
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The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) awarded $241 million to 23 state freight projects on June 5.

The projects benefitting from the funds will improve the mobility of freight throughout the state and provide long-term benefits in congestion relief and economic opportunity. Additionally, IDOT says the projects will increase safety, leverage private investment where possible and improve intermodal connections and commerce at the local level.

“Illinois is at the heart of freight activity for the entire country,” Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said. “These are smart investments that help improve economic competitiveness. At the same time, communities will be less congested, and the movement of goods and services will be safer and more efficient.”

The governor joined other officials at an event announcing the grants held at the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis intermodal facility in East St. Louis, which is receiving $1.93 million. IDOT says the award is leveraging $500,000 in private investment to re-establish a previously existing track alignment that will eliminate conflicts with four nearby highway crossings.

The largest award of $49.9 million went to the Chicago Department of Transportation to help fund the Columbus Avenue & Belt Railway Company of Chicago Grade Separation. The project is also known a GS11 and is part of the Chicago Region Environment and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program. According to CREATE’s website, the project will reduce congestion and improve safety for more than 11,000 vehicles per day by grade separating a “911 Critical Crossing.”

In addition to GS11, two other grade separation projects were also awarded funds including $25 million to the city of Decatur for the Brush College Road/Faries Parkway Grade Separation Project and $1.1 million to the village of Sauget for the State Route 3 Diversion Loop & Grade Separation project.

Administered by IDOT using federal funds, the grants were awarded on a competitive basis, with local, state and federal agencies, as well as private entities, eligible to apply. Projects receiving awards meet the goals of IDOT’s Illinois State Freight Plan, which encourages intermodal accessibility to regional freight corridors and the strategic use of technology.

“Illinois is proud to be the transportation hub of North America,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said. “These projects not only help in an innovative way for the efficient movement of goods and services needed to retain that status, but also are an important investment in our communities.”

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