U.S. DOT points to private-public partnership as example to fix America’s infrastructure… as shown in this Amtrak YouTube video that defines the CREATE Program to reduce delays.

Editor’s Update, July 12, 2018 / On July 11, the CREATE Program hosted a panel discussion with a media tour of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program’s improvement projects.

Representatives from the Daily Herald, Chicago Tribune and Positively Naperville were among the media in attendance. PN walked away mindful that public safety is the top priority for all railroad initiatives and that improvements will have an economic impact on Naperville, too, especially considering the local Fifth Avenue Redevelopment Project near the Metra Station, currently in progress. Now is the time to pay attention to this private-public partnership as communities consider ways to support and keep the CREATE Program on track.

The CREATE Program panel for the July 11 briefing in the Burlington Room at Union Station consisted of Joe Shacter, Amtrak Senior Manager for State Corridors; Bruce Marcheschi, Chief Engineering Officer/Metra; Randy Blankenhorn, Secretary, Illinois Dept. of Transportation; Rebekah Scheinfeld, Commissioner, Chicago Dept. of Transportation; John Yonan, Superintendent, Cook County Dept. of Transportation and Highways; and Bill Thompson, Chief Engineer, CREATE Program, Association of American Railroads. (PN Photo)

The day’s focus was on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s $132 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant and the Illinois Department of Transportation’s $49 million Competitive Freight grant, including its CREATE partners that are poised to begin construction on the 75th Street Corridor and Columbus Avenue projects.  

“Nothing is better than a strong partnership,” said Bruce Marcheschi, Chief Engineering Officer for Metra.

The 75th St. Corridor Improvement Project (CIP), designed to alleviate congestion by separating freight and passenger rail lines to eliminate bottlenecks on Chicago’s South Side, will reduce delays, cut down on train idling, and improve reliability and efficiency for commuters in Chicago and freight traffic nationwide. The program will also eliminate delays at grade crossings and enhance safety for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Every day, nearly 500 freight trains — with over 37,000 railcars — and 760 passenger trains pass through the Chicagoland region. For 150 years, Chicago has remained the nation’s busiest rail hub and the world’s third most active rail intermodal hub. In total, 25 percent of U.S. freight rail traffic and 46 percent of all intermodal traffic begins, ends, or travels through Chicago.

When completed, the CREATE Program is estimated to add 44,000 jobs and generate $31.5 billion in economic benefits in the region over the next three decades, and will allow the region to handle up to 50,000 more freight trains per year by 2051.

Bus tour included stops at projects including Bridgeview’s completed 71st Street Grade Separation near Toyota Park, the planned 75th Street viaducts showcasing CREATE’s benefits to communities on the South Side, the planned Forest Hill Flyover, as well as the already completed Englewood Flyover. (PN Photo taken at 75th Street stop where Bill Thompson and Bruce Marcheschi provided details about the illustration.)

Overview of CREATE Program submitted by Nick Palladino, for Marathon Strategies. Another PN story with photos of the tour will be featured soon. Thanks for reading.


Editor’s Update, June 18, 2018 / According to our online view analysis, this page is receiving considerable activity today. The new schedule for Metra could be the reason. Also note that according to the Metra website, the last day to purchase a Monthly Pass (July) will be June 20, 2018, and the last day to purchase a 10-Ride Ticket will be June 30, 2018. “This action is part of a continuing effort by Metra to identify ways to reduce expenses.  See alternate purchasing options here.”

Click here for a link to Riding Metra to Wrigley Field and many other destinations


Original Post / WASHINGTON (June 8, 2018) – Gov. Rauner and the partners on the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project were recognized today by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao for bringing together multiple public and private sector partners to advance a major local project that will improve the flow of goods and people throughout the United States. 

“The 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project is a prime example of how multiple partners working across industry and government can achieve big results for taxpayers,” Rauner said. “We are proud of the teamwork that is making this project possible, but even prouder of the positive impact it will have not just for Chicago and Illinois, but for the entire country.”

“These grants empower states and communities to make significant long-term infrastructure improvements that will shape transportation and mobility for decades to come,” said Secretary Chao.

At the event in Washington, the Secretary officially announced the $132 million award to Illinois from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program for the 75th Street project on Chicago’s South Side. The funding leverages additional private and public contributions for a total investment of $474 million – including $111 million from the Illinois Department of Transportation – to fix the country’s most complex and complicated segment of railroad.

Total contributions toward $474 million investment include…

$132 million from U.S. DOT

$111 million from IDOT

$116 million from the freight railroads

$78 million from Cook County

$23 million from Metra

$9 million from the City of Chicago

$5 million from Amtrak.

Unique partnership will improve service for rail commuters & freight rail costumers

“This unique partnership improves service for both Chicagoland rail commuters as well as freight rail customers across the country,” said Ed Hamberger, president and CEO of the American Association of Railroads. “By leveraging the private-sector investments of the freight railroads with funds from Metra, Amtrak, state, city, county and federal funds, the goals of both the private and public-sector partners can be achieved. Today’s funding, combined with existing partner commitments, will put shovels in the ground to improve the flow of rail traffic through the city and the nation.”

“As the newest member of the CREATE Program, I am grateful for U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure For Rebuilding America Grant,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “My administration has prioritized supporting our region’s role as North America’s freight capital and this $132 million enables improved freight and passenger mobility for the most congested rail bottleneck in Cook County and the nation. Creating additional capacity for rail will enable businesses to move their products to market in the U.S. and overseas efficiently and support thousands of jobs.”

“Funding the 75th Street CIP represents an incredible opportunity to improve the flow of rail traffic for the entire northeast Illinois region, reducing delays for Metra riders by eliminating a major bottleneck for both commuter and freight trains,” said Metra CEO and Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “We’re grateful for the support of our Illinois Congressional Delegation who clearly recognize the value of this project to the region’s economy and quality of life.”

“Transportation is not just Chicago’s historic strength; it is our competitive advantage for the future,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Federal investments in Chicago’s rail system, roadways, waterways and airports create jobs for Chicago residents, strengthen our economy and benefit the entire country. I want to thank all the local, state and federal partners, and the passenger and freight railroads, who came together to move full steam ahead on modernizing Chicago’s rail system.”

Amtrak video goes a long way toward explaining this project

“This grant award is further proof of the power of partnerships: local, state and federal governments working with Amtrak, Metra and the freight railroads through the CREATE Program,” said Amtrak Senior Director Ray Lang. “Amtrak contributed both dollars and expertise to this grant application and under the State of Illinois’ leadership, this is a big step in untangling the 75th Street Corridor, as shown in this Amtrak video.

The 75th Street corridor is the worst rail bottleneck in the country, yet one quarter of the country’s freight rail originates, terminates or passes through it. Additionally, more than 30 Metra trains and 10 Amtrak trains traverse the corridor daily, resulting in severe congestion and delays. 

“There is no more important freight project in the nation,” said Joseph Szabo, executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. “By eliminating conflicts for some two million-plus freight cars each year, the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Program will benefit the city’s, region’s and nation’s economies.”

The corridor improvement project will eliminate multiple conflict points and increase capacity, leading to an estimated $3.8 billion in economic value, as well as providing mobility, air quality and safety benefits. The project is considered the linchpin of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program.

“The 75th Street project is a blueprint for how to help solve our infrastructure needs going forward,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “By thinking big and working together, we can begin to build a world-class system of transportation for the people of Illinois.”

Other news reports from IDOT say the project is expected to take two years to finish. 

Story submitted by the Office of the Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner / PN File Photos


Click here for a link to Riding Metra to Wrigley Field and many other destinations