CREATE tour shows how projects interconnect

Officials ride the train near California Avenue.

Officials ride the train near California Avenue.

Executives from Chicagoland railroads and other VIPs toured the area as part of the fifth annual Safety Operation and Management Committee tour.  Riding passenger cars provided by BNSF Railway, the tour group traveled along tracks owned by BRC, BNSF, CSX, Indiana Harbor Belt, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific before ending the day at the Downers Grove Belmont platform.

The tour began with a briefing covering the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency program’s recent projects.  CREATE is a public-private partnership with the state of Illinois, city of Chicago and area passenger and freight railroads.

The tour’s purpose was to provide an up-close view of the various projects and demonstrate how they are connected.

Projects include:

  • 71st Street: Eliminates a grade crossing in a major industrial area adjacent to Toyota Park, a 20,000-seat multipurpose stadium near the entrance to a major rail yard complex, which requires slow train movements and gate downtimes.
  • Chicago Ridge: Removes a conflict point between commuter and freight trains, eliminating 6,000 annual passenger hours of delay for commuters.
  • 53rd Street and Central Avenue: Eliminates a grade crossing, reducing congestion and enhancing safety for 20,000 vehicles, 2,500 of which are delayed, per day.
  • 115th Street: Eliminates a grade crossing; reducing congestion and enhancing safety for 13,600 vehicles, 2,800 of which are delayed, per day.
  • CP Francisco: Adds capacity and reduces delays for freight trains through a major corridor.
  • Blue Island Junction: Enhances a track connection that allows more evenly distributed freight train traffic throughout the regional rail network.
  • TCS Blue Island: Increases speed and capacity for freight trains and reduces delay to intercity passenger trains where their paths cross.
  • Dolton Interlocking:
    Railroad executives and others tour Pullman Junction by train.

    Railroad executives and others tour Pullman Junction by train.

    Increases freight train speed and reduces delay at a point where multiple train paths cross.

  • Cottage Grove: Eliminates a grade crossing, reducing congestion and enhancing safety for 15,300 vehicles, 1,700 of which are delayed, per day.
  • 130th Street/Torrence Avenue: Eliminates two grade crossings adjacent to a major assembly plant, reducing congestion and enhancing safety for 32,000 vehicles per day.  This is a “911 Critical Crossing.”
  • Pullman Junction: Adds capacity and reduces delay for freight trains through a major corridor.
  • 74th Street: Frees space for increased intercity passenger rail trains at Chicago Union Station by shifting a growing commuter rail line to another downtown terminal that has spare capacity, eliminating 18,500 annual passenger hours of delay for commuters, and increasing speed and capacity for all trains.
  • 80th Street: Greatly increases freight and commuter train speed and capacity by removing the most severe rail bottleneck in the region, eliminating 9,000 annual passenger hours of delay for commuters.
  • 75th Street: Takes a growing commuter rail route out of the path of freight trains, eliminating 5,000 annual passenger hours of delay for commuters.
  • 71st Street/Bell Avenue: Eliminates a grade crossing, reducing congestion and enhancing safety for motorists and pedestrians.
  • Brighton Park: Removes a conflict point between commuter, passenger and freight
    The CREATE tour takes passengers near Brighton Park.

    The CREATE tour takes passengers near Brighton Park.

    trains, eliminating 4,500 annual passenger hours of delay for commuters and even greater delays for passenger trains.

  • Brighton Park: Provides a new connection between freight train routes, adding capacity and reducing delays.
  • Harlem Avenue: Eliminates a grade crossing, reducing congestion and enhancing safety for 32,000 vehicles, 6,300 of which are delayed, and 139 Pace buses per day.
  • Maple Avenue: Eliminates a grade crossing, reducing congestion and enhancing safety for 12,000 vehicles, 2,500 of which are delayed,  per day.
  • Belmont Road: Eliminates a grade crossing adjacent to a commuter train station, reducing congestion and enhancing safety for 20,000 vehicles, 3,500 of which are delayed, per day.

Officials touring the area included Joe Szabo, Federal Railroad Administration administrator; Luann Hamilton, Chicago Department of Transportation deputy commissioner; and Ed Hamberger, Association of American Railroads president.