December 2009 – CREATE Completes Strategic Rail Connection in McCook, Illinois

A key rail connection and capacity expansion project of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program is now operational in McCook, Illinois. The $13.1 million federally and privately funded McCook Connection project (Project B6) provides additional connectivity between the Indiana Harbor Belt (IHB), CSX, and the BNSF rail lines. Trains that had to wait or travel at a maximum speed of 10 miles an hour are now able to proceed through the area at 25 miles per hour as they move onto mainline tracks near the United Parcel Service Willow Springs Distribution Center.  The connection will provide additional capacity and congestion relief in the Northeastern Illinois region, benefiting approximately 15 to 20 freight trains that travel through the connection per day. Because of the increased speed on this connection to the IHB, trains will be able to clear the adjacent IHB/CN crossing more quickly, thus reducing potential freight conflicts with 6 weekday Metra Heritage Corridor trains and 10 daily Amtrak trains to and from St. Louis traveling on the CN tracks.

Approximately 70 workers from CSX, BNSF, and private contractors worked on the project, which began construction 12 months ago. “I am pleased that our strategic CREATE funding is creating jobs and infrastructure that will support our state and national economy,” said Representative Dan Lipinski (D-3), a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The McCook Connection is the seventh CREATE Project to be completed.  Six additional projects are currently under construction as shown in the CREATE Construction Status Map.

The CREATE program is a first-of-its-kind partnership bringing together Illinois Department of Transportation, the City of Chicago Department of Transportation and the Association of American Railroads (AAR). CREATE comprises 71 critically needed rail and highway infrastructure improvements in Northeastern Illinois, aimed at improving the quality of life of Illinois residents, and increasing the efficiency of freight and passenger rail service throughout the region and across the U.S.