September 12, 2011 – Summer Update 2011 Newsletter
In This Issue
- TIGER Projects in the Works
- Other Projects Continue to Move Forward
- Englewood Flyover Project Making Progress
- Major CREATE Project in Full Swing
- Railroads Receive Diversity Awards
TIGER Projects in the Works
In 2010, U.S. DOT awarded the CREATE Program $100 million for five CREATE priority projects. Funding came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – TIGER Program and was the second largest award of this type in the country. The CREATE partners are in the process of constructing these projects now.
The addition of a Union Pacific third mainline track and Proviso Yard access reconfiguration (B2 Fact Sheet) has made significant progress. The second contract segment that includes work to improve pedestrian access to the Bellwood station is currently in the bid process.
The project increases the number of simultaneous train movements and routing options possible, benefiting both commuter and freight train traffic. Freight trains will have an additional track to maintain mobility during Metra’s rush hours and will avoid standing delays of 3 to 4 hours, which are now common during these periods when Metra is given priority. Current schedules require that Metra has access to both main tracks for operation in both directions during these peak periods, and freight trains are held stationary while waiting for route availability. Conversely, when a freight train proceeds but is unable to clear the location in the time allowed, Metra trains experience delays. Once completed, Metra trains will be able to operate unimpeded on two main tracks while freight trains utilize the third main line, and Metra will be able to operate around slow-moving freight trains entering or leaving Proviso Yard. New pedestrian underpasses at the nearby Metra stations will also provide greater safety to commuters by allowing them to access the center platform without having to cross the tracks at grade level.
Improved signalization on the IHB in LaGrange and Broadview (B4/B5 Fact Sheet) has been substantially completed this year. This project upgraded 21 hand-thrown switches to computerized systems, allowing trains to increase their top speed to 30 mph from 1-20 miles per hour previously. These improvements will also reduce delays at crossings in the adjacent communities.
Improving signalization on the IHB in Blue Island (B15 Fact Sheet) is currently under construction. This project also eliminates hand-thrown switches and installs modern signal systems. It allows trains to increase movements in this area to a maximum train speed of 30 mph, up from 15 mph before.
A groundbreaking for the grade separation of 71st and the IHB/CSX tracks (GS14) in Bridgeview was held on June 20th. Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3), State House Speaker Michael Madigan, Bridgeview Mayor Steven Landek, and the CREATE partners broke ground on the $27 million underpass near Toyota Park. This project will eliminate long delays for drivers, enhance safety, improve air quality, and create and preserve jobs.
TIGER grant funds are also being used for the City of Chicago’s Viaduct Improvement Program. Fourteen existing viaduct locations throughout the City will see rebuilt roadways, sidewalks and drainage under railroad structures. These improvements will provide enhanced safety and security for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Construction award is expected in late 2011. (Viaduct Program/ARRA Viaducts Fact Sheet)
Other Projects Continue to Move Forward
- Belmont Road & Metra/BNSF, Downer’s Grove (GS7) IN CONSTRUCTION
- 130th & Torrence, Chicago (GS15a) IN CONSTRUCTION
- Irving Park Road at York Road, Bensenville (GS16) construction BID FALL 2011
- Roosevelt Road/Kautz Road at Union Pacific RR, West Chicago (GS25) construction BID FALL 2011
- Central Ave/54th St., Chicago (GS2) Phase I BID SUMMER 2011
Englewood Flyover (P1) Project Making Progress
The rail-rail flyover project at 63rd and State in Chicago, known as the Englewood Flyover (P1) continues to advance. As we reported last year, US DOT awarded $133 million to the flyover project through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act High Speed Rail grants. It will eliminate conflicts between 78 daily Metra commuter trains, 14 daily Amtrak trains and 46 daily Norfolk Southern trains. All of the affected parties reached agreement in July. CREATE partners including Metra, the project sponsor, NS and UP were pleased to participate in Congressman Bobby Rush’s Englewood contractor information session at Kennedy King College on August 8th.
On August 9th, Congressman Rush also hosted a transportation industry job fair at Chicago State University that attracted thousands of job seekers, including many who sought employment in the rail industry. Employers who attended the job fair included, Amtrak, BRC, CTA, CSX, Metra, CN, NS and UP Railroad, as well as the FRA, IDOT and UPS.
Major CREATE Project in Full Swing
The 75th Street Corridor Project has continued making progress on its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) including public outreach throughout this summer. This project could potentially encompass flyovers at 74th Street, 75th Street, rail improvements at 80th Street and a grade separation at 71st and Bell (P1, P2, EW2, GS19). The project’s Community Advisory Groups (CAG) met in May and public meetings were held on June 7 & 9 at St. Rita’s High School and 1st Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church, respectively. An additional public meeting is being planned for this fall. If you are interested in learning more about the progress of this project or to be notified of the upcoming meetings, please visit http://75thcip.org.
Railroads Receive Diversity Awards/Prepare for Hiring Increases
Black Enterprise magazine recognized Norfolk Southern on their annual list of the “40 Best companies for Diversity,” 2011. Diversity Careers in Engineering and Information Technology magazine named Union Pacific a “Best Diversity Company” for the third year in a row. So what does that mean for the Chicago region? With numerous retirements expected at the railroads soon, jobs in our area may soon become available. A recent Crain’s article, Railroad Hiring Surges as Retirement Wave Hits Freight Lines (7/18/11), explored this topic in detail.