Tuesday, September 15, 2009

CREATE program seeks $300-million TIGER Grant

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The Illinois Department of Transportation said it is seeking $300 million in federal stimulus funds for a package of 16 projects that are part of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program. CREATE is a first-of-its-kind partnership bringing together Illinois DOT, the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Association of American Railroads. Illinois DOT is eligible for the funding under the federal Transportation Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program established in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In addition to the $300 million being sought via the federal TIGER grant, CREATE partners also have committed to an additional 39 percent match in funding - $117.4 million in state and private monies - for the program of projects outlined in the application.

"The Illinois Department of Transportation has worked long and hard to preserve rail across the state of Illinois" said Governor Pat Quinn. "I believe the CREATE program is an essential element for economic development and job creation. For that reason, I support the Illinois Department of Transportation's application for $300 million in TIGER Discretionary Grant funds."

"As the nation's rail hub, the performance of Chicago's rail network has a profound impact on rail movement nationwide. The efficient movement of goods is critical to our nation's economy and the quality of life of our citizens and visitors," said Mayor Richard M. Daley.

"These projects will greatly improve the efficiency and operability of moving both freight and people by rail through the region," said AAR President and CEO Edward Hamberger. "CREATE is a project of critical importance to the national freight and passenger rail network, and this public-private partnership is truly historic."

The program outlined in the TIGER grant application - ranging in scope from rail line improvements to a grade separation to viaduct improvements - will have tremendous economic, livability, sustainability and safety benefits. With completion by 2012, this program will support roughly 4,500 job years. In addition, the application details the following benefits:

 Economic Benefits:

• 17,684 hours in annual freight rail delay reductions

• $265.0 million in annual logistics cost savings

Livability Benefits:

• reduced annual passenger rail delays by 57,631 passenger hours and $1.4 million in costs

• reduced annual motorist delays by 344,499 hours and $8.5 million in costs

Sustainability Benefits:

• reduced diesel consumption by 2.9 million gallons each year

• reduced emissions from locomotives and vehicles due to improved efficiency and delay reduction

• $2.5 million annual costs savings associated with emissions reduction and reduced diesel consumption

Safety Benefits:
• improved vehicle safety and crash prevention

As a project of regional and national significance, CREATE has received tremendous support from lawmakers, public and private organizations and trade unions from across the U.S. For example, CREATE has received letters of support from as far away as Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif. - vital U.S. port locations that often see originating shipments that travel through Chicago

With significant passenger and freight rail movements located in his district, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) has long been a supporter of the CREATE project.

"CREATE is critically important to the Chicago region, the state, and the entire nation," said Congressman Dan Lipinski, who is Northeastern Illinois' only member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. "That is why I have continued to lead the effort in Washington and here at home to help fund CREATE, successfully securing $100 million in federal funding in 2005 as well as working with state leaders to allocate $300 million for the program in the recently passed state capital bill. Moreover, I am already working with members of the Transportation Committee to secure additional funding for CREATE in the next highway and transit authorization bill. This application for stimulus funds, if successful, will build on the important investment we have already made to reduce congestion while creating good paying local jobs and improving safety."

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