February 2018 – Annual Newsletter

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  • February 2018 – Annual Newsletter

In This Issue

  • CREATE Partners Submit INFRA Grant Application for 75th Street CIP
  • Grade Separation at Irving Park Rd. and York Rd. is Complete (Project GS16)
  • Upgrades to Canadian Pacific Crossovers Break Ground in Franklin Park with Metra Benefits (Project B1)
  • Grade Separation Studies Receive Input from the Communities
  • 2018 Projects Update

Each year, the CREATE partners strive to keep you up-to-date on the progress we continue to make addressing passenger and freight congestion and efficiency in our region and nation. There are many accomplishments to be proud of and many opportunities to be excited about that lie ahead. We hope you will celebrate with us and gain some energy from the exciting projects still to come.

CREATE Partners Submit INFRA Grant Application for 75th Street CIP


The CREATE partners submitted an INFRA grant application for the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project (CIP) (Projects P2, P3, EW2, GS19 and B9) . The grant leverages significant local public and private funding commitments, equal to two-thirds of the project costs ($308 million) to close the funding gap and help to fix the most complex and congested segment of railroad in North America. The project requires only a 33.8% ($160 million) federal share to promptly move beyond the planning and design stage and into construction. The total project cost to complete design of four sub-projects, construct the two most critical projects, and construct the fifth project already substantially through the design phase will be $473.7 million. The 75th Street CIP received broad and robust letters of support from local, regional and national agencies, numerous corporations, and elected officials, including the entire Illinois congressional delegation. When complete, the 75th Street CIP will eliminate the most congested rail chokepoint in the Chicago Terminal and will significantly improve freight movement in the Chicago region and beyond. Thank you to all of you who wrote support letters on CREATE’s behalf.

Completed Grade Separation at Irving Park Rd. and York Road (Project GS16)

GS16 photo

In October 2017 a grade separation was completed at Irving Park Road and York Road, a busy intersection immediately southwest of O’Hare. This work also included signal modernization, landscaping and drainage improvements at the interchange. Together the $67 million project (CREATE Project GS16) eliminated a notorious bottleneck that will improve safety and will allow 25 trains and 60,000 vehicles daily to travel through the intersection without delays. Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn, who was on hand for the ribbon cutting, stated that from this project, “We’ll see huge benefits for multiple modes of transportation, paving the way for future economic development…and, ultimately, a better quality of life in an important part of our state.” Congratulations to IDOT and project partners Village of Bensenville, DuPage County, Cook County, the City of Chicago’s O’Hare Modernization Program, the Canadian Pacific Railroad and Metra.

Upgrades to Canadian Pacific Crossovers Break Ground in Franklin Park with Metra Benefits (Project B1)

Work began in October 2017 to install five crossovers and associated signaling on tracks servicing the Metra Milwaukee District West Line and another crossover between the IHB and Canadian National Railway tracks in Franklin Park. The 34th CREATE project in the region, Project B1, will allow freight trains to bypass the Canadian Pacific Bensenville Yard daily which will reduce potential freight train delays to 58 Metra trains on the Milwaukee District West Line. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2019.

Grade Separation Studies Receive Input from Communities

CREATE’s commitment to improve grade crossings progressed in 2017 as three grade separations continued to move through the design stage:

  • Harlem Avenue between 63rd and 65th Streets at the Belt Railway – GS1
  • Archer Avenue at the Belt Railway/Kenton Avenue – GS9
  • Columbus Ave at the Belt Railway/Maplewood – GS11
grade sep1

The GS1 project is located along IL-43 between 63rd and 65th Streets and will eliminate the at-grade crossing of two Belt Railway tracks. Harlem Avenue has 40,000 vehicles per day; west of Harlem on 63rd St. carries 15,100 vehicles per day; east of Harlem on 63rd St. has 14,900 vehicles per day and west 65th St. has 12,400 vehicles per day. This study location is designated a “911 Critical Crossing,” as it is an important access point for emergency services in the area. Three Community Advisory Group (CAG) meetings were held in 2017 where stakeholders helped to develop project goals, the project purpose and need, and evaluated project alternatives. A second public meeting is scheduled for March 2018 and will present the problem statement, purpose and need, and share a full range of alternatives to obtain public input. CAG meetings will continue through 2018 with Phase I anticipated to be complete in 2019.

grade sep2

The GS9 grade separation project is studying the best way to remove the at-grade crossing on Archer Avenue east of the Archer and Cicero intersection. This project is also a “911 Critical Crossing” and sees over 18,600 vehicles and 259 buses cross the tracks each day. Three CAG meetings were held in 2017 where members provided important input into the project. A fourth and final CAG meeting will take place in early 2018.

The Phase I preliminary engineering for the GS11 project, which will remove the at-grade crossing between Columbus Avenue and the Belt Railway, also held three CAG meetings in 2017. The project will eliminate over 36,800 annual motorist hours of delay. One final CAG meeting is anticipated for spring of 2018. The study will also include a public meeting in the spring of 2018.

Current CREATE Project Status

Completed Projects 29
Under Construction 5
Final Design 4
Environmental Review 14
Remaining Projects 19


Every year the CREATE partners give numerous tours of the CREATE projects for federal and transportation officials, elected officials, and business and community stakeholders. We were especially pleased to give a tour of projects to participants of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Designing Cities 2017 Conference held in Chicago in late October. NACTO’s Designing Cities Conference highlights the important trends happening in the transportation sector, and as a host city, it offered a great opportunity to showcase our work. CREATE highlighted the completed GS15a grade separation at 130th and Torrence, three grade separations in or starting Phase I (GS9GS11, and GS21a), and the 75th Street CIP – a grouping of projects which will improve freight mobility locally, regionally, and nationally.

Reinvigorating CREATE Facebook

We are improving our coverage of project construction and pictures, media attention, tours, etc. through the CREATE Facebook page. Don’t delay and Like us today!

CREATE Partners

  • Amtrak
  • BNSF
  • Belt Railway Company of Chicago
  • Canadian Pacific
  • CN
  • Chicago Department of Transportation
  • CSX
  • Illinois Department of Transportation
  • Indiana Harbor Belt
  • Metra
  • Norfolk Southern
  • Union Pacific