On October 23, federal, state and local officials celebrated the opening of the $142-million Englewood Flyover, a major railroad bridge that has eliminated a significant source of train delays on the south side of Chicago and has reduced emissions and noise from idling trains in the neighborhood.
The flyover bridge replaced a crossing between the Metra Rock Island tracks and a set of Norfolk Southern tracks at 63rd and State Street. With the completion of this project, 78 weekday Rock Island Line trains are now carried over the busy freight tracks used by approximately 60 freight and Amtrak trains, eliminating conflicts between trains that result in service delays. The flyover is a major accomplishment of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program.
“The Englewood Flyover is one of the pillars of the CREATE program and helps to strengthen Chicago and Illinois as the transportation hub of North America,” Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said. “Projects like these that invest in our infrastructure are economic engines that create jobs, encourage economic growth and improve the quality of life for residents throughout the region.”
“We have been looking forward to this day for a long time,” said Wick Moorman, chairman and chief executive officer of Norfolk Southern. “It’s impossible to overstate the positive impact this project will have on Norfolk Southern’s service, along with Amtrak’s and Metra’s. Not only will this project eliminate many hours in freight and passenger train delays daily, but it frees up additional capacity for all of us to continue to grow our business.”
The flyover was funded with $126 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act High-Speed Rail funds, $4.9 million in other federal money, $8.2 million from the state of Illinois and $3 million from the railroad industry, including Metra.
The Englewood Flyover is the first project planned under the CREATE program to reduce conflicts between passenger and freight trains in the Englewood area and prepare the corridor to accommodate high-speed rail service. Its completion lays the groundwork for two more CREATE projects. The planned 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project will divert trains on Metra’s Southwest Service to the Rock Island District at a point south of Englewood. The planned Grand Crossing Project will divert six daily Amtrak trains to Norfolk Southern tracks east of Englewood. With the flyover in service, the 75th Street and Grand Crossing projects can move forward without creating further bottlenecks at the busy Englewood interlocker.