Governor Pat Quinn, joined by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush and other federal, state and local officials, broke ground today on the Englewood Flyover, a project that eliminates one of the region's worst rail bottlenecks and will enable Illinois to serve as the hub for an expanded Midwestern network of passenger rail. The $133 million project, made possible by Governor Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! capital program and the federal recovery act, will reduce commuter and Amtrak delays, enhance freight rail operations, improve safety and create nearly 1,500 jobs.
"The Englewood Flyover will make life easier for tens of thousands of commuters every day and put people to work immediately," Governor Quinn said. "This vital project will eliminate a problem spot and set the stage for future passenger rail growth while boosting Illinois' position at the economic engine of the Midwest."
The Englewood Flyover is the second-largest of the 70 projects in the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE) to go into construction. CREATE will modernize rail operations in the Chicago area, ease highway congestion, reduce harmful emissions and keep the region competitive in the global marketplace by generating and retaining thousands of jobs.
"Projects like this one are exactly why President Obama has made transportation such a big part of the American Jobs Act," said Secretary LaHood. "We have workers on site today, American factories producing news supplies, and when the project is completed, people and goods will move more quickly and easily through the Midwest, making the region a better place to start a business or hire new workers."
The public-private project involves eliminating the notorious chokepoint where the Norfolk-Southern Railroad and Metra Rock Island District Line tracks intersect near 63rd and State streets in Chicago's Englewood community. The location, which serves 14 Amtrak trains, 78 Metra trains and 46 Norfolk-Southern freight trains daily, is one of Chicago's most delay-prone bottleneck.
The Englewood Flyover consists of building a bridge to carry three Rock Island District Line tracks over the four Norfolk-Southern tracks, relieving more than 7,500 hours in delay that Metra passengers experience annually. The bridge, when complete in spring 2014, will also include room underneath to accommodate additional tracks for expanded 110-mph Amtrak service from Chicago to Detroit, Cleveland and the East Coast.
"Nearly two years ago, many of us here today joined together to announce $133 million in funding -- including $126 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- to begin rebuilding the rail system right here on the South Side of Chicago. But this project is not just about saving time and money or even about cleaner air. This project is about jobs," Senator Durbin said. "I challenge the critics who claim the Recovery Act hasn't created jobs to make that case after seeing the 1,500 construction workers throughout the Chicago metropolitan region who will be employed as a direct result of this funding. If we are going to continue creating jobs and growing our economy, we need more of these projects, not fewer, which is why the American Jobs Act is so important. It is absolutely critical that we continue to invest in projects just like this one that will help put people back to work in good paying jobs that can't be outsourced."
"Today's announcement is good news for those in the Midwest and beyond who depend on freight and passenger rail service," said Wick Moorman, Norfolk Southern CEO. "We commend the efforts of our partners at the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Illinois Department of Transportation, The Chicago Department of Transportation, Metra, and Amtrak for their vision and persistence in bringing the Englewood Flyover project to this critical juncture."
A strict "Buy America" requirement ensures that U.S. manufacturers and workers receive the maximum economic benefits from this federal investment. The project will boost domestic manufacturing of railway supplies. According to the Railway Supply Institute, Illinois railway suppliers account for over $4.5 billion in sales each year, more than any other state in the nation. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced a $782 million investment for a fleet of next-generation American-made trains to operate across the Midwest and in California.
The $133 million for the Englewood Flyover includes $126 million in federal funding leveraged through $6.6 million from Governor Quinn's six-year, $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now!, the largest capital program in state history. A consortium of railroads involved in the CREATE program earlier contributed $3 million toward design costs.