Friday, October 30, 2009

CREATE project to improve rail infrastructure in Stockyards area

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The Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program partners said a $10.4-million project (Project WA3) now under construction east of the Chicago Stockyards Industrial District is the largest awarded to a contractor to date. It will double the capacity of the rail corridor through the Stockyards by adding additional tracks, enabling faster train speeds and utilizing modern signaling technology. Construction is expected to be completed by late 2010 and will rehabilitate the railroad viaducts over Halsted, Emerald, and Union Streets.

"We are pleased to continue our ongoing efforts to rehabilitate and replace many of our structures in the Chicago area, particularly as part of a project that has significant benefits for residents of the Stockyard area, the City of Chicago, and freight rail shippers throughout the U.S.," said Jim Carter, Norfolk Southern's chief engineer for bridges and structures. "This is a crucial rail route connecting eastern and western railroads, and these improvements will speed train operations and reduce both road and rail congestion in the area."

"This project is putting people to work at a time when unemployment in Illinois stands at a 26-year high and job creation is America's top priority," said Congressman Dan Lipinski (Dill.), who obtained $100 million for CREATE in the 2005 federal transportation reauthorization and worked with state leaders to help secure another $300 million for CREATE in the recently passed state capital bill. "Moreover, it will result in vital improvements to our transportation infrastructure that will benefit the region for decades to come. In order for Chicago to remain the country's rail shipping hub, we need to unclog the system by increasing capacity and improving the flow of train traffic."

"This is a CREATE project that will enhance transportation efforts across the board," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig "We are pleased to see transportation improvements being made in the Chicagoland area and the rehab of these viaducts is another example of us all working together to make our railroads stronger, safer and more effective."

"The rehabilitation of these three viaducts over City streets will improve conditions for thousands of motorists and pedestrians who travel under them each day, as well as enhance the safety and appearance of these structures for the surrounding community," said Jeffrey Sriver, CREATE Program Director for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

As part of the $10.4-million project, a $5.6-million contract has been awarded to Chicago-based James McHugh Construction Co. to completely replace the bridge decks on the Halsted, Emerald and Union Street viaducts and rebuild the support columns in the roadways and sidewalks. In conjunction with the viaduct work, the remaining funds have been allocated to the installation of additional track by Norfolk Southern through the project area. This project was 80 percent funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and 20 percent funded by the freight railroad industry.

The CREATE program is a first-of-its-kind partnership, bringing together Illinois DOT, the City of Chicago Department of Transportation and the Association of American Railroads. CREATE comprises 78 critically needed rail and highway infrastructure improvements in Northeastern Illinois, aimed at improving the quality of life of Illinois residents and increasing the efficiency of freight and passenger rail service throughout the region and across the U.S.

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