Projects to improve the flow of freight and people have been green-lighted in Chicago.

Chicago Getting Congestion Relief

In February, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $100 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for projects to help reduce rail bottlenecks in the Chicago region. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Transportation finalized a grant agreement for the CREATE (Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency) program to begin work on those projects.

LaHood said freight congestion mitigation projects include new traffic control systems, track and bridge work, a highway-rail grade separation, and safety improvements on various rail viaducts.

About 25 percent of rail traffic in the United States travels through the Chicago region, in some instances taking longer to transit the city than the time it took to reach it from the east or west coasts. The CREATE program focuses on alleviating major bottlenecks along freight and passenger rail corridors. The most important improvements within the program are the grade separations and the rail-to-rail connections, which DOT said will benefit highway users and permit more seamless connections between railroads.

“CREATE’s success is America’s success,” said FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “By improving the flow of freight and people, rail traffic will move more safely and efficiently.”

The $100 million grant is from the DOT TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) discretionary program, included in the Recovery Act, to promote innovative, multi-modal, and multi-jurisdictional transportation projects that provide significant economic and environmental benefits to an entire metropolitan area, region or the nation.

The five projects funded by the TIGER grant are

  • Construction of the Union Pacific Third Mainline-Proviso Yard.
  • Installation of a traffic control system at La Grange/Broadview.
  • Signalization of Blue Island Yard Running Tracks.
  • Construction of a highway-rail grade separation structure at Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Company and CSX Transportation Inc. grade crossing at 71st Street.
  • Fourteen roadway/sidewalk/curb projects as part of the Viaduct Improvement Program to enhance safety and security for motorists and pedestrians.

Overall, the CREATE program includes more than 46 rail and 25 highway-rail grade separation projects that involve restructuring, modernizing, and expanding freight and passenger rail and constructing new highway-rail grade separations in the Chicago metropolitan area.

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