Chicago receives federal grant to relieve South Side rail congestion

Sarah Schulte Image
Monday, October 1, 2018
Illinois receives federal grant to relieve South Side rail congestion
Chicago's South Side gets a big financial boost to help relieve rail congestion.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's South Side gets a big financial boost to help relieve rail congestion. A big grant from the federal government is making project decades in the making become reality.

It is known as the worst rail bottleneck in the country. Dozens of freight and Metra trains cross each other's paths daily between 71st and 79th Streets. Known as the 75th Street corridor, there are so many trains, they crawl their way through the area leaving frustrated residents.

"Traffic gets real bad, it's usually backed up from the light all the way down to the railroad tracks," said resident George Curley.

For years, Curley and others who live near a railroad crossing have learned to adjust their lives around rail traffic. "Most of the time I just sit and wait, we try to get our errands done before the morning rush and before the afternoon rush," said Curley.

"I go up to 69th Street when the train comes, there's an overpass," said resident Marvin Sampson.

To relieve the nation's worst rail congestion, The U.S. Department of Transportation announced today a $132 million federal grant for infrastructure improvements.

"It's always a good day when there is lots of money coming your way" said Elaine Chao, U.S. Dept of Transportation Secretary.

In statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, "Today represents a major step forward for our plans to strengthen Chicago's historic role as the transportation hub for the nation. I thank Secretary Chao for recognizing the national significance of this project with her presence here today. I also congratulate all the CREATE partners who have been working together to make the 75th Street CIP project a reality. Nothing can stop us when we work together to make these kinds of infrastructure investments that spur economic activity, clean up our environment and improve quality of life in our neighborhoods."

The 75th Corridor Improvement Project includes building a flyover and an underpass. Besides federal money, the state, county, city and railroads all contributed millions.

"These infrastructure upgrades will also increase the reliability and the efficiency of railways across the country which will help our economy and create more jobs," said Chao.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth said, "For too long, congestion and delays have defined transportation and commerce in the Chicagoland area. Illinoisans deserve a safe, efficient and reliable rail system, and today we're a step closer to that reality. This project will help relieve the chokehold along the 75th Street Corridor and at similar bottlenecks throughout the region-creating jobs and making our roads safer in the process. I want to thank the Department of Transportation along with the elected officials and industry partners who worked hard to make this groundbreaking possible."

Construction begins next year. The project should be completed by 2025.