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Grade Separations


Archer Avenue & Belt Railway of Chicago Grade Separation

Topline Community Benefits

The railroad and roadway improvements addressed by GS9 reduce railroad delays, improve traffic flow, increase the safety of vehicular, pedestrian and transit travel, increase the mobility of emergency services through a 911 critical crossing, and enhance economic development.

The project also intends to reduce barriers to opportunity for racial minorities in the surrounding neighborhoods by lessening east-west neighborhood and transportation network bifurcation caused by the railroad tracks.

Project Funding Needs

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Seeking construction funding (Phase III)

Project Location Map

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Project Area

North Limit 51st St.
South Limit W 52nd St.
East Limit S Kolmar Ave.
West Limit S Knox Ave.

Project Overview & Impact

Daily, 18,600 vehicles and 259 CTA buses (#62) pass through the crossing. This project will improve air quality by reducing vehicle idling, reduce roadway congestion, and improve safety for all road users. The grade crosing separation will eliminate delay to more than 2,700 vehicles daily, resulting in alleviation of nearly 59,600 annual motorist hours of delay. It will also eliminate the potential for collisions between vehicles and trains.

This location is designated a “911 Critical Crossing.” This is a critical location for emergency services to access communities that have a high frequency of train movements or delays. The grade separation will eliminate this issue.

The project will consider eliminating the at-grade crossing of Archer Avenue by two Belt Railway of Chicago (BRC) tracks.  This will be accomplished by creating either an overpass or underpass for vehicles using Archer Avenue at this location.

For more information, visit www.archerbrc.com


Project Benefits

Project GS9 will improve roadway traffic operations by reducing the idling time at a critical 911 crossing. This will improve community health in terms of both air quality and access for emergency responders serving the area’s communities. The project will also reduce congestion-related crashes and injuries, and eliminate roadway-rail conflicts.

The reduction in motorist delay also applies to the CTA buses servicing the neighborhoods along Archer Avenue, many of which are low-income and minority households. Because bus delays at the crossing affect service all along this 12.5-mile bus route, the project significantly improves transit service reliability for more than 11,000 daily transit riders.

Chicago, IL Community Areas: Archer Heights and Garfield Ridge

GS9 is included in the Core/Midway freight cluster for its freight activity and freight-intensive or freight-supportive land use. The area has the largest intermodal facilities and the largest concentration of manufacturing and food processing space in the region.  The presence of a freight cluster near GS9 demonstrates the importance of the location for freight and the potential for further development. Part of the area is also classified by CMAP as a service producing trade cluster, which is an area with potential for local economic development.

Improvements to the at-grade crossing could potentially reduce the building vacancy rate and encourage the replacement of legacy infrastructure, growing the regional and local economy and creating employment opportunities. State and regional agencies are working together to collectively invest in multimodal transportation and freight related projects. GS9 is one of many projects being undertaken to improve multimodal freight infrastructure with the intent of increasing economic opportunities and potential for future development in the region.

The existing intersection of Archer Avenue and the BRC rail lines causes traffic congestion with the passing of long trains that cause motorists to idle and emit greenhouse gases. The gate closure time ranges from one to 24 minutes, with a total gate down time of 127 minutes resulting in 59,600 annual hours of vehicle delay. GS9 promotes energy efficiency and improved air quality through the elimination of vehicle dwell time at the intersection.

Additionally, the GS9 project will improve conditions for people walking and bicycling along Archer Avenue in this area and promote sustainable modes of transportation. Bicycle and pedestrian improvements will be constructed, including two pedestrian crossings on adjacent side streets to safely access CTA bus stops and several schools.

The railroad tracks at GS9 are an integral link to connecting the railway network serving the Chicago metropolitan area. Improvements to this stretch will eliminate railroad-roadway conflicts, and reduce the likelihood of delays for trains operating in the GS9 corridor.

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Project Status

Phase I Completed
Phase II Underway
Phase III Upcoming

Project Status Definitions:
– Phase I: Environmental & Preliminary Engineering
– Phase II: Final Design (Plans, Specifications & Estimates)
– Phase III: Construction

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