February 2017 – Winter 2017 Newsletter
In This Issue
- Grade Separation Opens in Bellwood!
- 2017 Projects Update
- Cook County pledges $75M to CREATE
- 2017 FASTLANE Grant Application
- CREATE Listed Among Top 40 Projects of National Economic Significance
- Englewood Flyover Earns National Honor Award
Grade Separation Opens in Bellwood!
In late December, the new 25th Avenue overpass (CREATE Project GS6) opened to traffic. Each day this $41 million grade separation project allows 19,000 motorists to avoid crossing paths with 59 Metra trains and 52 freight trains each day, resulting in a reduction of 28,400 annual hours of motorist delay. Together with improved response times for emergency vehicles, increased safety and fresh pavement resurfacing, this project makes the area more attractive for economic development. Congratulations to the elected officials, local leaders and project partners who collaborated with the CREATE partners to find a solution that benefits everyone.
2017 Projects Update
Speaking of grade separations, 2017 is off to a great start for CREATE projects, most notably with the launch of websites for three more grade separation studies in Chicago:
- Harlem Avenue between 63rd and 65th Streets, at the Belt Railway (with IDOT) GS1
- Archer Avenue at the Belt Railway/Kenton Avenue GS9
- Columbus Ave at the Belt Railway/Maplewood Avenue GS11
Construction on Irving Park Road GS16 in Bensenville is on schedule for completion by Fall 2017.
Additional CREATE projects under design in 2017 include Argo B9, Pullman Junction EW3, Ogden Junction WA1 and Dolton Interlocking WA11. Beginning construction in 2017 is the Canadian Pacific double track and Indiana Harbor Belt connection in Franklin Park B1. This project is a trifecta, reducing delays for commuter trains, freight trains and motorists. To round out 2017, construction will continue on the BNSF “Horseshoe” WA4 to provide new connections between nearby major freight yards and main line tracks, adding capacity, improving safety, and reducing delays.
Completed Projects: 28
Under Construction: 6
Final Design: 4
Environmental Review: 13
Remaining Projects: 19
Cook Country Commits $75 Million to CREATE
To implement the Connecting Cook County Long Range Transportation Plan, adopted on August 3, 2016, Cook County has committed $75 million for the CREATE Program’s 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project (CIP). This commitment is a critical first step on Cook County’s part to support and enhance the region’s role as North America’s freight capital.
2017 FAST LANE Application
The CREATE Program partners, along with Cook County and CMAP, submitted a 2017 FASTLANE* grant application in mid-December seeking $160 million in federal support for:
- 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project in Chicago, Phase II Design for P2, P3, GS19 and EW2 and Phase III construction for P3 and GS19. Upon completion, this project will take a growing commuter rail route out of the path of freight trains and shift its downtown terminal to a station with capacity for future growth, construct a grade separation on 71st Street at the CSX-BOCT/Bell Avenue, and remove the most severe rail freight bottleneck in the region (see map above).
- Argo Connections B9 Phase III Construction, Chicago/Bedford Park/Bridgeview/Summit, to improve freight train travel time, This is the last CREATE Beltway Project to construct and is necessary to fully leverage the added capacity from 75th Street CIP.
These five inter-related infrastructure improvements are central, both geographically and functionally, to reducing rail and highway delays and expanding freight, commuter and passenger railroad capacity in Chicago. FASTLANE grants are approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation. With the recent appointment of Elaine Chao as Secretary the CREATE partners remain hopeful that a favorable announcement will be made soon.
*Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies
CREATE Among Top 40 Projects of “Major Economic Significance”
As part of the Build America Investment Initiative, the U.S. Department of Treasury commissioned a study to identify 40 proposed transportation and water infrastructure projects in the United States of major economic significance, but whose completion has slowed or is in jeopardy. CREATE was the only project in the Chicago region to make the list, recognizing the important role that public works infrastructure plays in supporting national economic growth. While 28 of the 70 CREATE projects have been completed, funding and a continued commitment is needed for the remaining projects in various phases of planning, design and construction.
Englewood Flyover Project Earns National Honor Award
In the Summer 2016 newsletter we mentioned that CREATE’s Englewood Flyover P1 received the top “Engineering Excellence” award from the Illinois section of the American Council of Engineering Companies. The project went on to compete against other state winners at the national level. All national entries receive special recognition, but the Englewood Flyover reached the next level earning one of only 16 Honor Awards given in 2016. Congratulations to CREATE’s P1 project team including TranSystems, Benesch and everyone involved in this successful undertaking to alleviate congestion and improve safety and air quality! In addition, the project team received the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association’s 2016 Hay award for outstanding design.
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!
- Belt Railway Company of Chicago
- Canadian Pacific
- Chicago Department of Transportation
- Illinois Department of Transportation
- Indiana Harbor Belt
- Norfolk Southern
- Union Pacific