Thursday, October 22, 2009

Study supports new Metra line to southeast Chicago suburbs

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A recent study by the SouthEast Commuter Rail Development Board confirms what Crete, Ill., Mayor Michael Einhorn said he's known for years: that commuter rail service to the southeast suburbs is necessary, according to the Southtown Star.

Insufficient mobility, inadequate access to jobs, environmental quality and residential growth are some of the reasons cited for creating a new Metra rail line that would end in Crete, according to the study released late last month.

The line would run from Chicago's LaSalle Street Station south to Balmoral Park in Crete, where an end station and maintenance facility would be built. Stops would include 35th Street, Gresham and 115th Street in Chicago; and Dolton, South Holland, Thornton, Glenwood, Chicago Heights, South Chicago Heights, Steger and two stops in Crete.

The village completed a station-area-planning project with information about commuters, local businesses and the best possible location for a station in Crete and at Balmoral.

Einhorn has been a driving force behind the quest the new rail line for more than a decade.

"Commuter rail service would be the most advantageous and best choice of Metra," he said during an Oct. 19 Crete Village Board meeting.

The federal government has the project on its books, but money has not been earmarked yet. Einhorn said the state of Illinois has to be able to come up with money for as much as 40 percent of the project before work can begin.

The project is estimated to cost $735 million, which includes a cost overrun of about 30 percent. Annual operating costs are estimated at $28.8 million.

The study shows that an average of 18,700 people would ride trains on a SouthEast commuter rail line on any given weekday.

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