A new grade separation, part of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program, opened at 25th Avenue over Union Pacific's line in Bellwood, Ill., on Dec. 22.
The $41 million project began in September 2014 and eliminates a conflict point between 52 freight trains, 59 Metra trains and 19,000 vehicles per day. Not only does the grade separation reduce congestion and improve safety, but it also saves 28,400 hours per year of motorist delay and ensures better response times for emergency vehicles.
“This new overpass pays immediate dividends for communities nearby, but its impact will be felt for years throughout the region,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “This project is what CREATE is all about: All parties coming together to find a solution that benefits everyone.”
The overpass accommodates two lanes of traffic in each direction over the railroad tracks and included resurfacing Main Street between 25th and 19th avenues.
“This project, many years in the making, will benefit all residents by serving as a conduit for economic development, quicker emergency vehicle response times and a safer traffic flow,” said Bellwood, Ill., Mayor Frank Pasquale. “This is much more than a railroad overpass. This is a bridge to a better quality of life for our communities.”
“Union Pacific is thrilled to commemorate the opening of the 25th Avenue grade separation — an enhancement that benefits motorists, Metra commuters and freight railroads. We commend the involved parties for their collaboration and commitment, and look forward to continued success on future CREATE projects,” said Liisa Stark, Union Pacific Assistant Vice-President.
The railroad overpass project was made possible by a $22.2 million contribution from Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), $2.4 million from the villages of Bellwood and Melrose Park and $16.4 million from federal, railroad and other state sources.
The $4.4-billion CREATE Program is a public-private partnership between IDOT, the Chicago Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation, freight and passenger railroads. It comprises 70 rail and highway improvements, 27 of which are complete, that are designed to improve the regional transportation network.