June 24, 2011

Chicago to ease rail congestion with $126M ARRA grant

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) received approval to start spending $126 million in federal funds for Chicago’s Englewood Flyover project, which will eliminate one of the nation's largest rail bottlenecks in the Amtrak system.

IDOT contributed $6.6 million to the $133 million project, which will get under way later this summer.

The Englewood Flyover is a grade separation project south of Chicago Union Station that eliminates one of the most delay-prone intersections in the entire Amtrak system. It separates Rock Island District Metra commuter trains from Amtrak passenger trains traveling on the Norfolk Southern (NS) corridor.

An agreement between Illinois, NS and Amtrak also lays the groundwork for an additional express track for high-speed trains to points east and south. Amtrak utilizes the NS line for all trains from Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Indianapolis into Chicago. The State of Illinois will serve as the hub of the Midwest passenger rail network.

The Englewood Flyover project is part of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program, a partnership between the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, freight railroads, Metra and Amtrak, to remove and reduce train congestion throughout Chicagoland and the Midwest region. This congestion impacts all modes of transportation, forcing more trucks on to the highways, limiting access to airports, and reducing the capacity of railroads, limiting the regions effectiveness as the nation’s transportation hub.

In addition to the intercity passenger benefits, the Englewood Flyover will also reduce freight and commuter delays, keeping more people and freight off Chicagoland’s congested highways.

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