Lipinski, Madigan, Landek, and CREATE Partners Break Ground on Bridgeview Grade Separation that Will Create Almost 300 Jobs, Reduce Congestion, and Enhance Safety (June 20, 2011)
“Not only will this project create hundreds of jobs at a time when jobs are desperately needed, it will permanently eliminate delays and improve safety for the thousands of people that pass through this crossing on a daily basis,” Congressman Lipinski said. “I’m very pleased to have helped secure funding for the 71st Street underpass. It’s going to provide tremendous congestion relief for the residents of the Third District and Chicagoland.”
“We have been waiting a long time for this underpass and are thrilled that construction is finally beginning,” Bridgeview Mayor Steven Landek said. “I want to thank Congressman Lipinski and Speaker Madigan for their efforts to end this bottleneck, which has hindered residents and businesses in Bridgeview and neighboring communities for years.”
Eighty freight trains pass through the crossing daily, typically at speeds below 10 mph, resulting in frequent delays of up to 10 minutes for motorists, crashes involving vehicles and trains, and air pollution from long lines of idling vehicles. Currently, 4,400 vehicles use 71st Street daily, and that number is expected to rise to 7,000. In addition, on average 1,600 vehicles use 71st Street before and after Toyota Park events.
The 71st Street underpass is part of the CREATE rail modernization program, which is untangling Chicagoland’s congested transportation system and creating jobs. Congressman Lipinski is a leading advocate for CREATE, having obtained the first $100 million in federal funding for the project in 2005. He led the Illinois Congressional delegation in supporting the State of Illinois’ TIGER grant application, which yielded $20 million in federal funding for the Bridgeview underpass and an additional $80 million for other CREATE projects throughout the Chicago region.
Mark Hinsdale, CSX, commented, “This demonstrates why the State of Illinois, City of Chicago and the Class I railroads partnered on the CREATE Program. It’s a win-win for the public and our national transportation system.”
A CSX Gen Set low-emissions locomotive was featured at the press conference.
Initiated in 2003, the CREATE Program is a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership to address freight, commuter, and intercity passenger rail congestion in the Chicago area. The CREATE Partners include the U.S. Department of Transportation, Illinois Department of Transportation, Chicago Department of Transportation and the Association of American Railroads (AAR), representing BNSF, CN, Canadian Pacific, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, the switching railroads Belt Railway Company of Chicago and Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad, as well as Amtrak and Metra. The program includes 70 critically needed rail and highway infrastructure improvements in Northeastern Illinois, aimed at reducing congestion and improving the quality of life of area residents and increasing the efficiency of freight and passenger rail service throughout the region and across the United States.
(June 20, 2011)