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Rauner Announces $474 Million for Key Chicago Rail Project
Illinois Ag Connection - 06/14/2018

Gov. Rauner announced the U.S. Department of Transportation will be awarding $132 million toward the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project that's considered the linchpin of the Chicago Region Environment and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program. The award, through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program, leverages additional private and public contributions for a total investment of $474 million to fix the country's most complex and complicated segment of railroad.

"This award will result in a significant advance for our transportation system," Gov. Rauner said. "It means we can finally eliminate the 75th Street bottleneck and start enjoying the commercial benefits that come with modernization and more efficient movement of goods and people through Chicago and Illinois, the nation's most important transportation hub. It is a tremendous achievement by all of the partners involved."

The grant is the largest received by Illinois under the two previous U.S. DOT's discretionary grant programs and one of the largest ever. The accomplishment was made possible by the work of the entire Illinois congressional delegation, especially U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis and Dan Lipinski.

"While the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project is located in Chicago, it's progress is critical to the entire state of Illinois," said Davis. "The award Governor Rauner and Secretary Blankenhorn have helped secure will go a long way in alleviating train congestion in the Chicago area that has slowed down the movement of ag products and other goods and prevented access to reliable, high-speed rail between Chicago and downstate Illinois."

The 75th Street corridor serves more than two million freight cars annually. In addition, more than 30 Metra trains and 10 Amtrak trains pass through it daily. The corridor improvement project will eliminate multiple conflict points, add double-tracking and enhance key linkages to improve capacity and efficiency, leading to an estimated $3.8 billion in economic benefit.

The major elements include a CSX Railroad flyover bridge to eliminate intersections with other tracks, a 71st Street underpass just east of Western Avenue that will erase 10,000 hours of motorist delay annually, and new tracks and crossovers at the belt railroads, where trains presently travel as slow as 10 mph. Construction is scheduled to start this fall.

Also included is funding to complete studies and designs for a second set of Belt Railway Company of Chicago tracks and a new rail flyover connecting Metra's Rock Island District and SouthWest Service lines.

The $132 million federal award is matched by $111 million from the Illinois Department of Transportation, $116 million from the American Association of Railroads, $78 million from Cook County, $23 million from Metra, $9 million from the City of Chicago and $5 million from Amtrak.

"The 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project represents a true partnership," Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said. "Thanks to Gov. Rauner's leadership and the determination by everyone involved, we have arrived at a solution that not just helps the region, but the entire country."

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