Federal Funding to Create Hundreds of Construction Jobs in Illinois

Politicians and transportation officials have announced federal funding to reduce rail congestion and create nearly 1,500 construction jobs in Illinois.

The Englewood Flyover bridge project received $133 million in economic stimulus funding.

The project will create a railroad bridge to carry the north-south Metra Rock Island District line over the east-west Norfolk Southern/Amtrak tracks at 63rd St., near the Dan Ryan Expy. Ground will be broken on the project later this year, and it will be completed by 2012, said U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Chicago), who has promoted the project as part of the Chicago Regional Environmental and Transportation Efficiency program.

The project is expected to create 1,450 jobs, improve traffic on the Metra Rock Island line and cut Amtrak and freight delays. The triple-tracked bridge will carry Metra operations over all four tracks of the Norfolk Southern, and possibly a fifth track for a high-speed intercity passenger rail connection to points east and/or south.

“The single biggest source of delays in the Midwest is right here at the Englewood crossing,” said Amtrak chair Thomas Carper, at an announcement at the project site at 63rd Street. “This project is going to fix that. That’s how important this is.”

Mark Davis is a spokesman for Union Pacific Railroad. He says the project is a result of cooperation between railroads that serve Chicago and local, state and federal government agencies. “For our industry, the faster you can move through a large terminal area like Chicago, the more productive, the more environmentally-friendly, and in turn, the more efficient you can operate your business, and that’s the key.”

The flyover is also a first step toward future CREATE projects that would cut delays on Metra’s Southwest Service line, according to Lipinski.

The crossing sees 78 Metra trains, 46 freight trains and 14 Amtrak trains daily. “With all that traffic, it is unavoidable that we have conflicts and delays,” Lipinski said.

The announcement also was attended by Mayor Daley, Gov. Quinn, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and U.S. Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.), chair of the House Transportation Committee.