Chicago rail project’s goals include improved freight flow

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The Illinois Department of Transportation now can start spending $126 million for Chicago’s Englewood Flyover project that was awarded last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Friday, June 24. The project, which will get under way later this summer, will eliminate one of the nation’s largest rail bottlenecks. The Illinois Department of Transportation contributed $6.6 million to the $133 million project.

The Englewood Flyover is a grade separation project south of Chicago Union Station that eliminates one of the most delay-prone intersections in the entire Amtrak system. It separates Rock Island District Metra commuter trains from Amtrak passenger trains traveling on the Norfolk Southern (NS) corridor.

“Untying rail congestion in Chicago is critical to developing a Midwest passenger rail network that will connect the 40 largest markets in the Midwest,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Building the Englewood Flyover will put Americans back to work this summer and create new orders in our domestic supply chain.”

An agreement between Illinois, NS and Amtrak also lays the groundwork for an additional express track for high-speed trains to points east and south. Amtrak utilizes the NS line for all trains from Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Indianapolis into Chicago. The State of Illinois will serve as the hub of the Midwest passenger rail network.

The Englewood Flyover project is part of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program – a partnership between the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, freight railroads, Metra and Amtrak – to remove and reduce train congestion throughout Chicagoland and the Midwest region. This congestion impacts all modes of transportation, forcing more trucks on to the highways, limiting access to airports and reducing the capacity of railroads, limiting the regions effectiveness as the nation’s transportation hub.

In addition to the intercity passenger benefits, the Englewood Flyover also will reduce freight and commuter delays, keeping more people and freight off Chicagoland’s congested highways. “Not only will Illinois see the benefit of new construction jobs and some desperately needed congestion relief, this is a great opportunity for Illinois suppliers to bid on new orders,” says Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo. “Illinois has more railway suppliers than any other state in the country, and does more than $4.5 billion in sales each year.”