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Lipinski, Quigley, and Durbin Announce $3 Million Grant to Improve Metra Rail Lines Serving Southwest and South Areas of Region (April 10, 2015)

Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3), Congressman Mike Quigley (IL-5), and Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin joined with officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Metra, Amtrak, the Environment Protection Agency, and the City of Chicago this morning to announce a $3 million grant for IDOT to develop a comprehensive plan to ease congestion and improve the efficiency of passenger rail service on the southwest and south sides of the city and suburbs.  It will reduce congestion and delays, boost economic growth, and improve the overall quality of life for residents.  The plan will also complement ongoing rehabilitation efforts at Chicago Union Station for Amtrak and Metra riders.

“As Illinois’ most senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and chief proponent of the CREATE program, which is working to alleviate rail congestion in northeastern Illinois, I fought in 2013 alongside Congressman Quigley to get unspent federal funds reprogrammed for rail safety and improvement projects,” said Rep. Lipinski.  “So I’m proud to announce that some of those funds are coming to our region to develop a plan to ease congestion on our rail lines that lead from the southwest and south into Union Station, benefitting passengers riding these Metra and Amtrak lines, businesses and shippers using these lines, and everyone on the Southwest and South sides of the city and suburbs impacted by rail.  This is great news for the area, especially passengers riding the BNSF, Heritage Corridor, Southwest Service, and Rock Island Metra lines in my district.

“The comprehensive plan made possible by this grant will bring in all the stakeholders to build on the benefits we’ve put in place already with the CREATE program,” continued Lipinski. “It will help northeastern Illinois better plan its investments, increase the quality of life of residents, and move people and goods on time while increasing the attractiveness of Chicago Union Station as an economic hub in the region.”

Recently, Congressman Lipinski introduced legislation that reauthorizes the Rail Safety Technology Grant program as another step towards improving the safety of our nation’s railroads.  The bill provides $200 million for each of the next five years for positive train control (PTC) safety technologies, rail integrity inspection systems, a system for electronic communication regarding hazardous material rail shipments, and other new rail safety items.  These investments will benefit the safety of millions of Americans and ensure that Chicago, the backbone of the American freight network, has the funding it needs to comply with the positive train control requirement.

Rep. Lipinski also recently worked with colleagues to pass the first Amtrak reauthorization bill in over six years, which will help ensure the safe movement of passengers across the country. It contains provisions that he advocated for, including allowing commuter and freight railroads to use Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loans to pay for PTC, and it contains funding for grade crossing safety.