U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), at a special House Rail Subcommittee meeting June 10 on rail issues in Northeastern Illinois, touted the Chicago Regional Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE) initiative as a model for a successful public-private partnership
, but said larger projects, such as grade separations and rail flyover bridges, must be more of a priority going forward.
“CREATE has been a unique transportation success story by bringing the private and public sectors together in a historic partnership. I am committed to fighting for funding for larger projects in our region and nation to create jobs and provide relief to local residents from both rail and highway congestion,” Lipinski said. “Looking at the CREATE projects that have been completed so far, the greatest emphasis has been on smaller, rail-specific projects. There has been less progress on the larger projects that in my view represent CREATE’s greatest benefit to the public.”
CREATE is a package of 70 projects to make the region’s rail system more efficient, resulting in improved safety, better commuter service and reduced highway congestion, enhancing the quality of life for residents and creating jobs and economic development.
Of all the projects in CREATE are completed, half of commuter delays caused by freight are eliminated locally and $3.6 billion in economic activity is generated nationwide. Rep. Lipinski noted that of the seven projects in CREATE that would fix locations where passenger rail lines intersect, just one is completed. Of the 25 projects to separate spots where busy roads and rail lines cross, two are finished and four are under construction, with 12 having no funding.
“I believe one way to refocus our priorities is to bring back the Projects of Regional and National Significance to identify those projects that are deserving of significant federal investment,” Lipinski said. “But we also require an increased commitment from the other CREATE partners, including local governments and the railroads themselves.”
Rep. Lipinski, the state’s senior member on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, is one of 11 members on the new House Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation, exploring ways to improve the movement of freight throughout the nation and create jobs. The panel will be offering a list of recommendations for consideration by the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee later this year.