February 2020 – Annual Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Over $19 million in Grants Secured for CREATE Projects
  • Key Congressmen Tour CREATE Projects
  • Promoting Opportunity on the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project
  • Governor Pritzker and Senator Durbin join CREATE in launching the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project Education Program
  • Groundbreakings and Project Completions: CREATE Keeps the GO in ChicaGO
  • CREATE Partners Participate in Northeastern Illinois Grade Crossing Prioritization Study
  • The past year has been especially rewarding for the CREATE Program. From securing a Consolid

Over $19 million in Grants Secured for CREATE Projects

Over $19 million in Grants Secured for CREATE Projects

In June, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the CREATE Program $19 million to construct the Dolton Junction Interlocking (WA11) in Dolton and Riverdale. This project will help ease rail congestion in the south suburbs and far south side of Chicago. This funding was awarded through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Grant Program. 

“This important investment will not only improve rail speed and service reliability, it will help keep passengers, drivers and pedestrians safe. It also creates good paying jobs for the people of Dolton and the Southside of Chicago.” – U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, in response to the Dolton Junction Interlocking receiving a CRISI Grant

The partners also received a $500,000 Invest in Cook grant to support final design for the 95th  Street and Union Pacific grade separation (GS21a). Each day, 24,000 vehicles and more than 700 CTA and Pace buses pass through the crossing and face delay when trains are present. This project will reduce roadway congestion, improve safety and eliminate the potential for collisions between vehicles and trains.

Key Congressmen Tour CREATE Projects

This past November, the CREATE partners provided a tour of past CREATE projects for Congressman Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (IL-4), member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Congressman Garcia visited the Chicago Transportation Coordination Office (CTCO), the 71st Street at Indiana Harbor Belt Grade Separation (GS14, completed in 2013), the Englewood Flyover (P1, completed in 2016), the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project (P3 and GS19, in final design) and the Harlem Avenue Grade Separation (GS18, pending initiation). In addition to highlighting CREATE’s national importance, the partners relayed the local mobility, transit, education and workforce benefits associated with CREATE projects. 

“Everyone in our city needs transportation to get to school, go to work, or run a business. Yesterday the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program showed me their projects to improve our region. I got several ideas for my work on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Future of Transportation caucus I launched recently. Thanks to the CREATE program for making our city better.” – Congressman Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (IL-4)

Last March, Congressman Garcia’s congressional colleague David Price (NC-4), Chair of the House Appropriations, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee, participated in a similar CREATE Program tour and was joined by Congressman Bobby Rush (IL-1). Chairman Price emphasized the importance of CREATE for national freight movement, noting that the economic strength of our nation depends upon efficient freight movement through Chicago’s railroad lines and yards. The partners are excited by the national momentum surrounding the Program and look forward to working with Congressmen Garcia, Price and their committee colleagues, including House Transportation Railroad Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Lipinski (IL-3), to implement these important transportation improvements.

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Jeff Sriver, Chicago Department of Transportation, and Congressman David Price at the 75th St. CIP

Promoting Opportunity on the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project 

Final design is underway on the  75th Street Corridor Improvement Project (75th St. CIP), comprised of the Forest Hill Flyover (P3), 71st  Street Grade Separation (GS19), Belt Junction and 80th  Street Junction Replacements (EW2), Rock Island Connection (P2) and viaduct and community mobility improvements. Phase II design has kicked off in 2019 with robust outreach to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) and residents of the broader project area including the Chicago neighborhoods of Ashburn, Englewood, Auburn Gresham and West Chatham. The partners presented to the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association and Federation of Women Contractors. Events to encourage prime consultant and DBE networking are being held in conjunction with mandatory pre-bid meetings. Workforce development consultants are also working on the project to help connect local community members and businesses to project opportunities. To learn more about DBE participation on the 75th  St. CIP and opportunities with the project, visit the Doing Business page on the project website

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Governor Pritzker and Senator Durbin join CREATE in launching the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project Education Program

Last October, Governor JB Pritzker and Senator Richard Durbin joined CREATE partners including Illinois Department of Transportation Acting Secretary Omer Osman, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, City of Chicago Deputy Mayor for Infrastructure and Services Anne Sheahan, Association of American Railroads President Ian Jefferies, Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Public Library representatives, community leaders and residents to announce support for education programs for students and residents as part of the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project (75th St. CIP). The CREATE partners are committed to supporting community programs in the project area to encourage students’ interest in transportation, engineering and technical fields throughout the design and construction of the 75th St. CIP. In November, professionals working on the 75th St. CIP began visiting schools, leading classroom exercises on railroad safety, bridges and structures and pathways to careers in engineering and related fields. Additionally, CREATE partners are hosting field trips for middle school students and company visits for high school students. The Junior Mentor Protégé Internship program that hires young adults for paid internships at firms working on the 75th St. CIP will graduate its first group in summer 2020. Learn more at 75thcip.org.

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Governor Pritzker, Senator Durbin, CREATE partners and elementary school students at the 75th St. CIP education program announcement

Groundbreakings and Project Completions: CREATE Keeps the GO in ChicaGO

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Association of American Railroads President Ian Jefferies, IDOT Acting Secretary Omer Osman, U.S. Congressman Daniel Lipinski, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and CSX Midwest Manger Will Blanchetti break ground on the Argo Connections

2019 was an exciting year for project advancement. In April, CREATE partners and U.S. Congressman Daniel Lipinski (IL-3) gathered in Summit, IL to break ground on the Argo Connections (B9). This project will benefit the 116 freight trains, six Metra trains (Heritage Corridor) and 10 Amtrak trains (Lincoln and Texas Eagle Services) that traverse this corridor daily. The new double-track connection will allow speeds of 25 mph, providing for increased flexibility for dispatchers and reduced time switching train cars destined for local industry. Once complete, this project will also allow access to the future main train tracks around Clearing Yard (EW1) on the planned new East-West Corridor.

As the nation’s rail hub, it’s important that Chicago maintains a world class railroad system designed to meet the growing demands of both freight and passenger rail. Completing CREATE’s Western Avenue Corridor Project will support more fluid railroad operations.” – Jason Jenkins, BNSF Railway’s Chicago Division General Manager

Shortly after the Argo Connections groundbreaking, the CREATE partners and BNSF Railway celebrated the completion of the BNSF Connection project (WA4). This project eliminates train delays by adding new tracks and creating a new direct connection between BNSF’s Corwith and Cicero Yards. It also provides new connections between the CN Freeport Subdivision and the Western Avenue Corridor along which the BNSF, Norfolk Southern, CSX and Union Pacific Railroads all operate. Before this project, freight trains had to travel longer indirect routings to make these connections. With the completion of this BNSF Connection project, half of the eight CREATE projects along the Western Avenue Corridor are now in service.

To date, 30 CREATE projects have been completed, with four more projects under construction and 17 in various stages of planning and design.

Current CREATE Project Status

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CREATE Partners Participate in Northeastern Illinois Grade Crossing Prioritization Study

Grade crossings are places where trains and roadways intersect. These areas can be safety concerns and they can delay vehicular traffic, buses, cyclists and pedestrians that must wait for trains to pass. Recognizing the importance of enhancing safety and reducing delay at these intersections, CREATE’s public partners, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Chicago Department of Transportation and Cook County, joined with the Illinois Commerce Commission and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to jointly determine the Northeastern Illinois railroad crossings most in need of grade separations or crossing improvements. Ultimately, a total of 47 priority crossing locations were selected, including nine groupings of multiple crossings in close proximity to one another and 16 crossings that are also part of the CREATE Program. The list of grade crossing priorities is available on the   CMAP website  and may be updated as needed in the future.

Look Ahead 

Exciting developments are in store as the new decade begins! 2020 will be the start of the CREATE website redesign. The Metra – Franklin Park / Canadian Pacific – Bensenville Upgrade project (B1) will be completed. The partners look forward to making presentations to numerous organizations and at public forums. Would you like to support CREATE or request a presentation in 2020? Please contact the CREATE partners any time at  info@createprogram.org.

Stay Engaged

The CREATE Program is active on social media. Follow us on  Facebook,  YouTube  and  Flickr  for program highlights, videos and photos. To learn about upcoming bid opportunities, visit the  Doing Business page of the website.