Lipinski Pledges to Fight Effort to Take Away Funding for Rail Project That Will Create Jobs, Ease Metra Congestion (February 24, 2011)
Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin vowed to fight to preserve $133 million in federal funding for the Englewood Flyover, a linchpin of the CREATE rail modernization program that will reduce Metra delays for Third District riders, create 1,450 jobs, and boost long-term economic growth. The project’s funding would be immediately eliminated in the spending bill for the current fiscal year that the House approved early Saturday morning and Congressman Lipinski opposed. The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration. Congressman Lipinski is the leading supporter of CREATE, having obtained the first $100 million for the program in 2005 and having helped to secure hundreds of millions of additional dollars for it since then.
“As my record reflects, I believe that the national debt is a threat to America’s long-term economic health and that we need to cut unnecessary spending to assure our future prosperity,” Lipinski said. “But we can’t cut with our eyes closed; we must continue to make investments that are critical for the future of our nation, especially our middle class. The Englewood Flyover provides a tremendous bang for the buck, and cutting it now would be incredibly short-sighted. It will create 1,450 jobs at a time when there aren’t nearly enough middle class jobs available. It will reduce delays on Metra’s Rock Island District line and is the critical first step toward eliminating delays on the Southwest Service line, benefiting 40,000 riders every weekday. As a linchpin of the CREATE rail modernization program, it will boost economic growth for years to come. It’s vital we continue to move the program forward.
“When you talk about the Englewood Flyover, you’re talking about a concrete investment in local jobs,” Lipinski said. “Just last month, Chicagoland traffic congestion was named the worst in the country. Congestion is a job killer, costing Chicago-area businesses $3.3 billion and local consumers $1,738 each on average annually. By keeping truck traffic off our roads and making commuting on Metra faster and more reliable, the Englewood Flyover will provide badly needed congestion relief that keeps our economy moving. Maintaining funding for it is essential.
“Yes, we need to cut spending, but we need to do so in a responsible manner,” Durbin said. “We shouldn’t abandon our commitments to creating jobs and economic development in the midst of this recession.”
The Englewood Flyover will build a bridge to carry Metra’s Rock Island line over the Norfolk Southern/Amtrak tracks at 63rd Street in Chicago, ending delays that occur when trains must wait for other trains to cross at the rail-rail intersection before proceeding. Failure to increase freight rail capacity through CREATE would mean missing out on 17,000 jobs and $2 billion in annual economic production in the Chicago metropolitan area.
CREATE will reduce congestion with track, switch, and signal upgrades and by constructing overpasses and underpasses to end conflicts at both rail-rail and highway-rail crossings. It will also limit locomotive engine idling and improve air quality. CREATE is a first-of-its-kind partnership, bringing together the federal government, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Chicago Department of Transportation, Metra, and the Association of American Railroads.
“There is no doubt that we must cut spending, reduce the national debt, and restore fiscal discipline,” Congressman Lipinski said. “Three weeks ago, I parted ways with most Democrats and voted for a resolution calling for a reduction in spending for the rest of this fiscal year to 2008 levels. But the House Republicans’ spending bill goes far beyond that, and in the final analysis it cuts from the wrong places. Funding for job-creating investments like the Englewood Flyover should be preserved as we work to reach a sensible agreement to fund our government for the rest of the year.”
(February 24, 2011)