Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR), issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) decision to award $132 million in federal funding for the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program’s 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project (CIP). This project will address one of the most congested points in the U.S. rail network by improving traffic flow through the region and freight efficiency across the nation.
“This unique partnership improves service for both Chicagoland rail commuters as well as freight rail customers across the country,” said Hamberger. “CREATE is a poster child for public-private partnerships aimed at increasing efficiency through the heart of the U.S. rail network – Chicago.
“By leveraging the private-sector investments of the freight railroads, with the contributions of METRA and AMTRAK and state, city, county and federal funds, the goals of both the private and public-sector partners can be achieved. Governor Rauner, IDOT Secretary Blankenhorn, Mayor Emanuel and Cook County President Preckwinkle have been tireless advocates for the 75th Street CIP and the CREATE program. Today’s funding combined with existing partner commitments will put shovels in the ground to improve the flow of rail traffic through the city and the nation.”
Each day, nearly 500 freight trains — with over 37,000 railcars — and 760 passenger trains pass through the region. For 150 years, Chicago has remained the nation’s busiest rail hub and the world’s third most active rail intermodal hub, moving 25 percent of U.S. freight rail traffic and 46 percent of all intermodal traffic that begins, ends or travels through Chicago.
When completed, the CREATE program is estimated to add 44,000 jobs and generate $31.5 billion in economic benefits over the next three decades. Additionally, CREATE will allow the region to handle up to 50,000 more freight trains by 2051.