Lipinski Announces Major Step Toward Increasing Heritage Corridor Metra Service: IDOT will Pay for Capacity Study (April 4, 2011)

Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03), IDOT Secretary Gary Hannig, Metra Chairwoman Carole Doris, and other state and local leaders announced that at Lipinski’s request the Illinois Department of Transportation has agreed to pay for a study of increasing Metra service on the Heritage Corridor. Rep. Lipinski has been leading the push to expand commuter service on the Heritage Corridor, which currently offers only three weekday round trips between Joliet and Chicago’s Union Station, with stops in Summit, Willow Springs, Lemont, and Lockport.

“I’m very glad that IDOT has agreed to this capacity study of the Heritage Corridor so we can determine what needs to be done to allow Metra to add trains on the line,” Rep. Lipinski said. “There is tremendous demand along the line for more service, and this is a big step in the right direction. It shows that the effort to expand Metra and Amtrak service on the Heritage Corridor has real momentum. Adding trains may not happen overnight, but the fact is that three round trips a day simply isn’t enough. With unemployment still too high and gas prices squeezing family budgets, we need to make sure Chicagoland residents can get to where the jobs are – safely, efficiently, and affordably. I especially want to thank Secretary Hannig and Chairwoman Doris for their strong support of this capacity study and understanding of the need for more Metra service on the line.”

“We’re pleased to be able to provide support for this important study, which will help the entire state move forward more quickly on upgrades for high-speed and conventional rail services,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig said. “The study results will help us determine infrastructure improvements for more frequent, more reliable, and faster intercity and commuter service for Illinois travelers. Rep. Lipinski is to be commended for his advocacy and efforts on behalf of commuters.”

“I want to thank Congressman Lipinski for answering the call of Will County communities,” Will County Executive Larry Walsh said. “Increased commuter service on the Heritage line has been long awaited and will greatly benefit communities like Lemont, Lockport, Romeoville and Joliet by reducing congestion, attracting new jobs and by increasing the quality of life for our residents. I look forward to working with the Congressman on this project and on many other projects that are beneficial to Will County in the future.”

“The area along this line is still growing rapidly, and an expansion of service is sorely needed,” Willow Springs Mayor Alan Nowaczyk said. “I know that Congressman Lipinski has been working toward this for some time, and we’re extremely pleased at his success and look forward to more Metra trains on the Heritage Corridor.”

“On behalf of the city of Lockport and the commuters, I’m very happy to see Rep. Lipinski’s leadership has worked to get this mission accomplished,” Lockport Mayor Dev Trivedi said. “I want to thank him for getting this done.”

Rep. Lipinski’s success in obtaining state and federal funding for the CREATE rail modernization program has already helped to expand capacity on the Heritage Corridor and pave the way for additional Metra trains. Rail capacity on the line was increased in 2007 by the Brighton Park Junction modernization project. Since then, three additional projects that benefit the Heritage Corridor have been completed as part of CREATE.

“I want to make sure people understand this study is only the first step,” Rep. Lipinski said. “But every train we add helps, and I’m going to keep working to put more Metra trains on the Heritage Corridor and give all those who live near the line more transportation options. Better Metra service doesn’t just help those who use it – it benefits everyone who drives by reducing the number of vehicles on our roads, which are now the most congested in the entire country. As things stand today, the lack of trains on the Heritage Corridor means there’s a major gap in public transportation in the area between Metra’s Southwest Service and BNSF Railway lines.

“I know that increasing Metra service on the Heritage Corridor would be welcomed by the residents of Bedford Park, Summit, Justice, Willow Springs, Burr Ridge, Lemont, Lockport, Joliet, Romeoville, Bolingbrook, Homer Glen, and other communities. Adding trains could provide a big boost to the economies of all these communities along the Corridor.”

The Regional Transportation Authority has formally requested that IDOT perform the Heritage Corridor capacity study.

Rep. Lipinski has a record of working successfully with IDOT, Metra, and others to improve rail service and operations. He helped bring long-awaited weekend Metra service to the Southwest Service line, which stops in communities such as Ashburn, Wrightwood, Oak Lawn, Chicago Ridge, Worth, Palos Heights, and Palos Park. He has also helped bring railroad quiet zones to Oak Lawn and to Riverside, North Riverside, and Berwyn. Quiet zones prevent trains from sounding their horns except for immediate safety reasons, reducing disturbances for those living and working nearby.

Among those who also joined Rep. Lipinski in support of more Heritage Corridor service were state Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi of Joliet, Lemont Mayor Brian Reaves, and Romeoville Mayor John Noak.

(April 4, 2011)