Illinois freight system to undergo major upgrades

Date: Thursday, June 7, 2018
Source: American Shipper

 Freight projects across Illinois are slated to receive millions of dollars in grants.
   The state’s transportation system plays a critical role for shippers as Illinois is the only state in which all seven Class I railroads operate. The state has “the second-largest public transportation system, the second-largest rail system, the third-largest interstate system, the fourth-largest highway system and one of the busiest airport systems,” according to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).
   Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner on Tuesday announced $241 million in grants are being allocated toward 23 transportation projects designed to improve freight mobility across the state.
   These Illinois Competitive Freight Program grants are being administered by IDOT using federal funds from the National Highway Freight Program.
   A complete list of these awards may be found here.
   The grants are in addition to $90 million in state resources and private investment, Rauner said in a speech Tuesday that was posted by the Illinois News Network.
Rauner also said Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program is awarding $132 million toward a Chicago rail project, referred to as the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project, according to a press release issued by the governor’s office.
   The federal award is matched by $111 million from IDOT, $116 million from the American Association of Railroads, $78 million from Cook County, $23 million from Metra, $9 million from the City of Chicago and $5 million from Amtrak.
   Construction on the project is expected to begin this fall.
   The project will eliminate multiple conflict points, add double-stacking and enhance key linkages to improve capacity and efficiency.
   “The major elements include a CSX Railroad flyover bridge to eliminate intersections with other tracks, a 71st Street underpass just east of Western Avenue that will erase 10,000 hours of motorist delay annually and new tracks and crossovers at the belt railroads, where trains presently travel as slow as 10 mph,” the governor’s office said. “Also included is funding to complete studies and designs for a second set of Belt Railway Company of Chicago tracks and a new rail flyover connecting Metra’s Rock Island District and SouthWest Service lines.”
   The 75th street corridor serves more than two million freight cars annually, while more than 30 Metra trains and 10 Amtrak trains pass through it daily.

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