[IMAGE]Amtrak-full.jpg[/IMAGE]Amtrak is using $115 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to improve tracks, buildings and control systems in Chicago this construction season, as part of a $1 billion construction program to fund capital projects designed to rebuild the critical infrastructure of America's Railroad.
“We are investing in our infrastructure in Chicago to improve our operations and support the growing demand to travel by Amtrak,” said President/CEO Joseph Boardman.
He noted America’s intercity passenger railroad posted a ridership increase of more than 7 percent nationally in the last nine months, including double-digit increases on the Chicago corridor to and from St. Louis, with strong results also on the Hiawatha Service corridor to and from Milwaukee and the Wolverine Service corridor to and from Detroit/Pontiac.
“These Chicago projects will create jobs and make a significant investment in the future of Amtrak and the Midwest rail system,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill). “These improvements are in tandem with the $1.2 billion in Recovery Act funding for work in downstate Illinois that will help bring high speed rail to the Chicago to St. Louis line.”
More than three million Amtrak passengers used Chicago Union Station last year, with more than 50 daily trains, making it the fourth-busiest in the national network. In addition, the nearly 130,000 commuters who pass through the station on an average weekday, with 248 weekday commuter train arrivals or departures, will also benefit from the infrastructure improvements.
These projects in Chicago are underway and expected to be finished by February 2011.
Chicago Terminal & Facilities
Amtrak has awarded a $106.2 million contract to replace or renew approximately five miles of track and to renovate or repair buildings used to inspect and maintain Amtrak trains at Chicago Union Station. Water, air, lighting, natural gas and heated track switching systems will be replaced or upgraded to improve service reliability in Chicago’s harsh winters and to meet the demands of growing ridership. Jacobs Inc. and subcontractors Kiewit Western Co. and Swanson Contracting are performing the work.
Chicago Control Center
A new $9 million control center in Chicago is being built to manage and dispatch Amtrak and other rail traffic in four geographically separate areas, including Chicago Union Station North, Chicago Union Station South, New Orleans Terminal and the Amtrak Michigan District. Operations at the center involve interconnections with territories owned by Metra (Northeast Illinois Commuter Rail Corp.), Norfolk Southern Railroad and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Canadian National railways.
When finished, the Chicago Control Center will improve the ability of Amtrak to manage daily train operations and extraordinary circumstances, with back-up capabilities elsewhere in the Chicago Terminal and at the Central National Operations Center in Delaware.
Pepper Construction Co. and vendors including Lucien Lagrange Architects, Environmental Systems Design Inc., ARINC Inc. and Jones Lang LaSalle are involved in the project.
METRO BRIEF: To read a Wall Street Journal story about Amtrak's plans to get a piece of the high-speed rail pie, click here.