; June 2016 - Summer Update 2016 - CREATE Program

June 2016 – Summer Update 2016

In This Issue

  • $31.5 Billion in Economic Benefits
  • Project Highlights
  • Signals!
  • More Good News
  • Current Project Status
  • ACEC Award For CREATE Project
  • FRA Grant Award
  • CREATE Presentation?


Since the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program began in 2003, the partners have continued to spread the word about the need for federal investment in multi-modal freight projects, such as CREATE. Late last year Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which provides multi-year federal transportation funding authorization. This was significant legislation for the CREATE Program as it contained a new program, the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant program. Freight projects including intermodal projects, are eligible for funding under the multi-year program and many of the projects in CREATE should be highly competitive for funding from this source. In April CREATE submitted an application for three priority grade separation projects under the first cycle of FASTLANE grant funding; we now await the results of award selections. The CREATE partners extend our sincere thanks to the Illinois Congressional Delegation, other elected officials and all organizations that supported the inclusion of new freight-related programs and a strengthened multi-modal focus in this legislation.

$31.5 Billion in Economic Benefits

The CREATE partners initiated an economic analysis to better quantify the likely benefits from completion of all 70 CREATE projects. The study estimated that to complete the CREATE Program, $4.4 billion total investment in infrastructure would generate $31.5 billion in economic benefits over a 30 year period. To conduct the economic analysis a rail traffic simulation model and other tools were used to rigorously evaluate the CREATE projects and estimate their regional and national economic benefits. Key outcomes of the analysis were:

  • Freight rail trade with Chicago is forecast to more than double from 2012 to 2045 according to the U.S. DOT Freight Analysis Framework 4.0.  Increasing the Chicago region’s rail network capacity will allow the network to handle up to 50,000 more freight trains per year by 2051 and still accommodate commuter and passenger rail growth. By 2051, the additional rail capacity from CREATE projects would accommodate 122 million tons of freight per year, which equates to 18,500 less truck trips per day (more than double the region’s current truck traffic).
  • Without construction of the CREATE projects, the simulation estimated the region’s total hours of rail passenger delay is almost 300,000 person hours in 2015, growing to 2 million person hours by 2051.  With the construction of all CREATE projects, annual passenger train delay would be reduced by over 1.3 million passenger hours by 2051.
  • Implementation of all CREATE grade separation projects would save an average of 92,000 hours of truck delay and 230,000 hours of motorist and transit bus passenger delay per year.
  • With full construction of CREATE projects, shippers may expect to save an average of $668 million per year on the cost of shipping goods; these are savings that can be passed on to consumers.
  • With full construction of CREATE projects, the region’s road agencies may expect to avoid an estimated $392 million in pavement damage costs per year.

More information on CREATE Program benefits is available in this fact sheet.

Project Highlights

CREATE projects are cutting ribbons, moving dirt and improving communities every year. Here are some recent project highlights that we are excited to share with you.

130th & Torrence


The massive 130th & Torrence grade separation (CREATE project GS15a) on Chicago’s far Southeast Side was substantially completed and opened to the public last year. This complex engineering achievement improves the operations and competitiveness of the adjacent Ford Motor Company assembly plant, supporting the 4,000 jobs at the facility and additional jobs at nearby suppliers. Approximately 24 freight trains and 32,000 vehicles move through the intersection each day, and previously some trains had blocked traffic for up to 20 minutes. The project eliminated an estimated 200 hours of daily vehicle delay, resulting in fuel savings and air quality improvements. The final component of this project is a bike and pedestrian bridge, which is soon to open.

Irving Park Road Grade Separation

irving prk

Another critical project currently under construction is the Irving Park Road grade separation (CREATE project GS16) in Bensenville, IL. Daily 32,600 vehicles and 31 Pace buses pass through this crossing. Separation of the roadway from the rail line will reduce roadway congestion and improve safety on Irving Park Road (IL-19) – a primary arterial. This project is located at the southwestern edge of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. It is adjacent to and being coordinated with construction of a new route for the Union Pacific Railroad over Irving Park Road (part of the O’Hare Modernization Program) and is anticipated to be completed soon.


As part of the signal modernization of the Western Avenue Corridor between Ogden Junction and 75th Street (CREATE project WA2), new signals went into service at Ash Street this year. When complete, WA2 will benefit Cook and Will Counties communities along the Metra Heritage Corridor Line, communities along the Amtrak Lincoln Service serving Joliet, Bloomington-Normal, and Springfield, IL and St. Louis, MO, and communities along the Amtrak Texas Eagle service between Chicago and San Antonio, TX.

A similar project, CREATE project WA3,was placed in service June 1st. This project adds signalization of the Norfolk Southern tracks from Ogden Junction near the intersection of Ogden and Western Avenues to a location near the intersection of 40th St. and Canal. The new signals will increase train speeds and add capacity along the NS main lines in the project area and improve service of the Metra Heritage Corridor Line, the Amtrak Lincoln Service and the Amtrak Texas Eagle service. In the past, trains spent up to one hour, using hand-thrown switches, to traverse the project boundaries. The improved signalization will relieve chronic congestion of Metra, Amtrak, and freight trains south of Union Station.

More Good News

CREATE project WA4, the BNSF Connection from Western Avenue to Ash Street, is fully under construction. This project will construct a new direct rail connection to allow freight movements between BNSF’s Corwith and Cicero Yards, and will eliminate safety and delay issues of long reverse train moves that currently take place. This project will also build new connections from the CN Freeport Subdivision to the CREATE Western Avenue Corridor and will provide improved safety benefits to the communities along the line.

*Picture is left to right: WA3, WA2, WA7 & WA4

There are numerous other projects in design or construction. Learn more about them at www.createprogram.org.

Current Project Status

Completed Projects 27
Under Construction 7
Final Design 3
Environmental Review 14
Remaining Projects 14

View full project status information at CREATE Projects.

ACEC Award For CREATE Project

CREATE’s Englewood Flyover (Project P1) was honored with the 2016 ACEC-IL Eminent Conceptor Award. Congratulations to this project’s consulting engineering firms, TranSystems and Benesch for their recognition with this award.

The Engineering Excellence Awards Competition recognizes projects of engineering achievement by Illinois consulting engineering firms. Entries are judged on the basis of engineering excellence, the degree to which the client’s needs are met, and the benefits to the public welfare and private practice of engineering.

FRA Grant Award

In February the Federal Railroad Administration announced the award of Railroad Safety Grants for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) by Rail Program. The CREATE partners were awarded $1.25 million to fund preliminary engineering for separation of Union Pacific’s double-track main line from motor vehicle, bus and pedestrian traffic along 95th Street at Eggleston Avenue (CREATE project GS21a) on Chicago’s Far South Side. Each day 24,000 vehicles and 700 transit buses with 18,000 passengers cross the railroad tracks at this location. More than 26,000 people live within one square mile of the project, which will enhance mobility and the quality of life for the adjacent community and overall region.

CREATE Presentation?

The CREATE partners are always out sharing information on CREATE’s national and regional benefits, project progress, lessons learned, environmental justice work, and more. If you would like a presentation for your organization or conference, please email info@createprogram.org. Enjoy your summer!

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