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CREATE 75th Street: $132 million from USDOT

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

The CREATE (Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency) partners—Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), Cook County, Association of American Railroads (AAR), Metra, Amtrak and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)—have received a $132 million U.S. Department of Transportation INFRA (Infrastructure For Rebuilding America) Grant for the $474 million 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project (CIP). This project will grade-separate several freight and passenger rail lines in Chicago’s Englewood, Auburn Gresham and West Chatham neighborhoods that currently intersect, creating significant delays and congestion.

The 75th Street CIP will eliminate Belt Junction, one of the most congested rail chokepoints in the region, which sees 32 Metra and Amtrak and 98 CSX, Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, Canadian Pacific and Belt Railway of Chicago freight trains per day. When complete, it will eliminate 18,500 annual passenger hours of delay by removing conflicts between freight and commuter trains, increase capacity at Chicago Union Station, decrease train idling, improve air quality in the surrounding neighborhoods and replace or rehabilitate 36 viaducts for increased mobility.

“By physically separating these crossings, this project will allow many more trains to pass through without delays, eliminating the choke points that today back up trains for miles beyond the project area and into many other Chicago neighborhoods,” the CREATE partners said.

IDOT submitted the INFRA Grant application on behalf of the CREATE Partners. The $132 million federal award leverages $111 million from IDOT, $116 million from the AAR, $78 million from Cook County, $23 million from Metra, $9 million from the City of Chicago and $5 million from Amtrak for a total investment of $474 million, which will complete the first half of the overall 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project.

To date, 29 out of 70 CREATE projects have been completed, with five more projects under construction and 17 in various stages of design.

“This unique partnership improves service for both Chicagoland rail commuters as well as freight rail customers across the country,” said Edward R. Hamberger, President and CEO of the AAR. “By leveraging the private-sector investments of the freight railroads, with the contributions of Metra and Amtrak and state, city, county and federal funds, the goals of both the private and public sector partners can be achieved. Today’s funding combined with existing partner commitments will put shovels in the ground to improve the flow of rail traffic through the city and the nation.”

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