Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program

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The Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE) is a $3.2 billion project to improve the efficiency of the rail network in the Chicago area by building, amongst other things, flyovers to separate rail traffic on conflicting lines. While the need is fairly clear, finance for the project is stalled in the United States Congress.

Problems[edit]

The tracks and junctions in the Chicago area have grown with little coordination between the railroads and the city since the first railroads arrived in the 1830s. There are a large number of at-grade crossings, sometimes not located a train length apart which is a problem as train lengths have grown. Some flyovers exist but do not always have sufficient clearance for tall or double-stack trains. Some connections that would create short cuts for traffic are missing. There are also many highway crossings at grades.

The congestion in the Chicago area is predicted to lead to severe disruption by the late 2010s without the completion of the CREATE program.[1]

Projects[edit]

The program is composed of a total of 71 separate projects, of which 46 are eliminating rail junctions and the remainder are eliminating grade crossings.[1] Of these, as of May 2012, a total of 14 had been fully completed, 12 were under construction.[2] Others were having designs finalized, or under environmental review.[1]

Major projects[edit]

Englewood Junction[edit]

Due to a $140 million project under construction as of May 2012,[2] a junction in Englewood, Chicago will get a flyover for Metra trackage above a Norfolk Southern route, eliminating a grade-level crossing.[3] 138 trains a day operate through the junction, which is the cause of the majority of delays in the Midwest for Amtrak trains.[3] Planned since 2002, the project was originally to begin construction in late 2010, with a completion date in 2012.[3] On 22 June 2011, it was announced that the state of Illinois, Amtrak, Norfolk Southern and the Federal Railway Administration had signed a final agreement for financing the project. The federal government is paying 95% of the cost, [4] and it opened in October 2014. [5]

Passenger train stations[edit]

As part of CREATE, Metra plans to reroute some commuter trains from Chicago Union Station to LaSalle Street Station, in order for high-speed passenger trains to operate into Union Station.[1]

Other projects[edit]

  • Construction of additional Union Pacific mainline trackage near Proviso Yard[6]
  • Signaling and grade-separation improvements to the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad[6]
  • General improvements to roadways near railroad overpasses[6]
  • Additional trackage, improved signaling and grade separations on CSX trackage in Alsip[7]

Funding[edit]

CREATE is a public-private partnership estimated to cost around $3 billion, up from an initial predicted cost of $1 billion.[1] $230 million is to be supplied by railroads that are part of the program, with the remainder coming from governments at federal, state and local levels.[1] In July 2010, a $100 million TIGER grant from the federal government was finalized.[6] As of late 2010, a total of around $320 million had been committed to the project, with an additional $133 million to be provided from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.[1]

Timeline[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "More projects, more funding still on CREATE's slate, UP's Payette says". Progressive Railroading. 8 November 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Train Late? Blame Chicago, John Schwartz, New York Times, May 7, 2012
  3. ^ a b c "Englewood flyover work to begin this year". Trains Magazine. 5 March 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "Construction to begin on Englewood Flyover rail bridges". Chicago Tribune. 22 June 2011. Archived from the original on 23 June 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 
  5. ^ Metra Flyover Chicago Tribune, 2014 Oct 23
  6. ^ a b c d "CREATE partners apply TIGER funds to five projects". Progressive Railroading. 6 January 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  7. ^ "CREATE project completed in southern Chicago suburb". Progressive Railroading. 8 November 2011. Archived from the original on 10 November 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  8. ^ Railway Gazette International Oct 2013, pg12