The Illinois DOT, Norfolk Southern (NS) and Amtrak finalized an agreement on Chicago’s Englewood Flyover project in late June, and the US DOT has obligated $126 million in funds on June 26, allowing Illinois DOT to move ahead with the project. Construction is scheduled to start later this summer, and is expected to take two years.
The Englewood Flyover is a grade separation project south of Chicago Union Station that eliminates one of the most delay-prone intersections in the entire Amtrak system. A 2,000-foot-long bridge for NS tracks over Metra Rock Island District Line tracks will separate Metra commuter trains from Amtrak passenger trains traveling on the NS corridor. Approximately 78 Metra trains and 14 Amtrak trains, in addition to heavy freight rail traffic, pass through the crossing every day.
The Englewood Flyover is part of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program, a partnership between the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, freight railroads, Metra and Amtrak, to remove and reduce train congestion throughout Chicagoland and the Midwest region. This congestion impacts all modes of transportation, forcing more trucks on to the highways, limiting access to airports, and reducing the capacity of railroads, limiting the regions effectiveness as the nation’s transportation hub. In addition to the intercity passenger benefits, the Englewood Flyover will also reduce freight and commuter delays, keeping more people and freight off Chicagoland’s congested highways.
“Untying rail congestion in Chicago is critical to developing a Midwest passenger rail network that will connect the 40 largest markets in the Midwest,” said US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
The federal obligation of $126 million, awarded last year, was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Illinois DOT also contributed $6.6 million to the project.
An agreement between Illinois, NS and Amtrak also lays the groundwork for an additional express track for high-speed trains to points east and south.