LaHood, Others Break Ground on Chicago High-Speed Rail Project

October 12, 2011

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood helped break ground Monday on the “Englewood Flyover” project, a critical component to the Chicago hub of the Midwest high-speed rail network. The construction project will build a bridge to separate traffic along two railroads, allowing 130 trains per day to move more quickly through one of the worst bottlenecks in North America. The investment will improve on-time performance of passenger trains, reduce freight congestion and create nearly 1,500 jobs.

Secretary LaHood was joined by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, U.S. Congressmen Bobby Rush and Dan Lipinski, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other state and local elected officials, as well as business, labor and civic leaders.

“Projects like this one are exactly why President Obama has made transportation such a big part of the American Jobs Act,” said Secretary LaHood. “We have workers on site today, American factories producing new supplies, and when the project is completed, people and goods will move more quickly and easily through the Midwest, making the region a better place to start a business or hire new workers.”

The $133 million construction project is funded through a $126 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s high-speed intercity passenger rail program, with a $6.6 million contribution from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! Construction program.

This marks the start of the second major construction project in the Midwest, as work is also under way on the Chicago-St. Louis High-Speed Rail Corridor. Workers will build a bridge to carry 78 daily North-South Metra Rock Island commuter trains and approximately 60 East-West intercity passenger and freight trains that operate on the Norfolk Southern corridor. The new bridge will allow all trains to pass through without conflict and is designed to allow for additional tracks to be added to both corridors to accommodate future growth.

"Every day, nearly 1,300 trains pass through Chicago-making it one of the busiest rail hubs in the United States," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "CREATE will invest in critically needed improvements to increase the efficiency of passenger and freight rail infrastructure, enhance the quality of life for residents and ensure Chicago remains a competitive destination for travel and trade."

Since the 1990s, Midwestern states have planned an intercity passenger train network that connects the 40 largest cities in the Midwest with over 60 roundtrips from downtown Chicago each day. The Englewood project will benefit passengers traveling along an improved corridor from Detroit, which has been awarded several grants for construction projects to increase speeds to 110 mph. Travelers from Cleveland, Indianapolis and Cincinnati will also see fewer delays thanks to the new bridge.

The project is part of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE), a public-private partnership between the state, city and railroads aimed at untangling Chicago’s infamously snarled railroads where conflicts cause delays across all modes of travel.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation