Drivers across Chicago and its suburbs are often delayed five or 10 minutes at area rail crossings. But one of the most congested rail points in the country, the 75th Street Corridor, is about to get a huge makeover designed to help speed up rail traffic and limit vehicle delays.
Chicago has received a $132 million grant for the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program for the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project. According to a press release from the mayor’s office, the investment from the U. S. Department of Transportation will help separate several freight and passenger rail lines in the Englewood, Auburn Gresham and West Chatham neighborhoods that currently intersect and create significant delays, train idling and congestion.
“Transportation is not just Chicago’s historic strength; it is our competitive advantage for the future,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Federal investments in Chicago’s rail system, roadways, waterways and airports create jobs for Chicago residents, strengthen our economy and benefit the entire country.”
The CREATE program includes 70 projects, including the construction of dozens of overpasses and underpasses where traffic currently crosses railroad tracks. The program is a partnership between the U. S. Department of Transportation, the State of Illinois, City of Chicago, Metra, Amtrak and the nation’s freight railroads.
Edward R. Hamberger, President and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR), said CREATE is a poster child for public-private partnerships aimed at increasing efficiency through the heart of the U. S. rail network – Chicago.
“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,” Hamberger said.
Nearly 500 freight trains and 760 passenger trains pass through the Chicago region each day, according to AAR.
Twenty-eight CREATE projects have been completed so far. Some of the planned projects have stalled due to a lack of funding.