9-29-2010: CREATE Signalization Project Begins Construction

Saves 35 jobs and supports many more

CHICAGO – (September 29, 2010) In February U.S. DOT announced that the CREATE Program would receive $100 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to complete five projects. Work on the first of those five projects began in July. The Broadview/LaGrange signalization (Projects B4/B5) will install a new bi-directional computerized Traffic Control System (TCS) along a seven-mile segment of the Indiana Harbor Belt (IHB). This project will upgrade 21 hand-thrown switches to power switches. The TIGER grant funded $11.7 million of the $13.7 million project. The remainder of the funds was contributed by the freight railroads.

Most trains currently spend up to two hours traversing the limits of this project due to the hand-thrown switches and restricted speeds. The signal improvements will allow trains through this segment in as little as 20 minutes. These improvements will allow increased operating speeds to 30 mph from a “restricted speed” (between 1 and 20 mph). The project also allows greater flexibility for simultaneous and bidirectional train movements through the addition of two control points. At the northern end of the project area trains enter and exit Proviso Yard. With the signal improvements, more options will exist to move trains in and out of the yard and pass around stationary trains waiting for route availability.

The signal system upgrades will provide greater visibility, enabling train dispatcher to know the exact locations of trains in the area. This enhances the dispatcher’s ability to route more trains through the territory, expanding overall capacity. Additionally, greater flexibility to keep trains moving reduces conflict with at-grade highway crossings at the south end of the project area in LaGrange and LaGrange Park.

In June, 35 signal and trackmen from the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad were slated to be put on “unpaid leave.” As was the intent of ARRA, quick document review by U.S. DOT and IDOT resulted in release of the TIGER funds in late July, enabling this project to start and these 35 employees to retain their jobs.  Per the federal guidance for ARRA grant applications, this grant is estimated to support a total of 149 job-years, including direct, indirect, and induced jobs.

The CREATE Partners include the Illinois Department of Transportation, Chicago Department of Transportation and the Association of American Railroads (AAR) representing BNSF, CN, Canadian Pacific, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, the switching railroads Belt Railway Company of Chicago and Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad, as well as Amtrak and the commuter railroad Metra. The $3 billion program comprises 71 critically needed rail and highway infrastructure improvements in Northeastern Illinois, aimed at reducing congestion and improving the quality of life of area residents and increasing the efficiency of freight and passenger rail service throughout the region and across the United States.

For more information:

Illinois DOT, Josh Kauffmann, (217) 558-0517 or jae.miller@illinois.gov 

Chicago DOT, Brian Steele, (312) 744-0707 or bsteele@cityofchicago.org

Association of American Railroads, Holly Arthur, (202) 639-2344 or harthur@aar.org