Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Illinois authorizes $800 million in rail and transit improvements

CREATE Tours Project B2  (Proviso Yard Third Mainline) with Civic and Legislative leaders on June 25, 2012. CREATE Tours Project B2 (Proviso Yard Third Mainline) with Civic and Legislative leaders on June 25, 2012. CREATE

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a law to begin the next phase of the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, which is designed to create jobs, strengthen the transportation system and support economic growth across Illinois.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider, local officials and labor representatives joined the governor as he signed House Bill 4568, authorizing the Illinois Department of Transportation to proceed with $1.6 billion worth of road, rail and transit projects across Illinois.

HB 4568 authorizes $799.5 million in mass transit and rail improvements during the 2013 fiscal year, including 15 Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) projects and the Chicago Transit Authority Red, Purple and Blue Line improvements.

The law is expected to improve transit safety and efficiency by dedicating $211 million of the funds to CREATE projects, leveraging $10.4 million in federal Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER IV) grants and a $136 million investment from freight railroads.

Included in the CREATE projects is the $36.2 million construction of an overpass at 25th Avenue through Melrose Park and Bellwood. This project will support approximately 325 jobs, improve safety, reduce roadway congestion, minimize delays and improve access to the Metra commuter station throughout the corridor from St. Charles Avenue to Lake Street.

"CREATE is a first-of-its-kind partnership among the U.S. Department of Transportation and Illinois, Chicago, Metra, Amtrak, and our nation's freight railroads," U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood said. "These investments will lead to faster service, more efficient operations and more capacity for future expansion. CREATE is a great reminder that when we invest in our transportation infrastructure, we can put Americans back to work today, and help our economy grow for years to come."

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