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INFRA Grant - Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program’s

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
INFRA Grant Announcement:
Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program’s
75th Street Corridor Improvement Project
Chicago, Illinois
Monday, October 1, 2018

Thank you, Governor Rauner. It has been a pleasure to work with you on this essential project. You are a great advocate for infrastructure, growth and jobs in Illinois!

I am so pleased to be here to help break ground on a project that incorporates one of the Department’s largest infrastructure investments this year. This infrastructure grant of $132, 034, 680 will help the Illinois Department of Transportation complete three critical components of the CREATE program’s 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project.

The components funded by this investment include:

  • The Forest Hill flyover bridge, which will eliminate crossing delays for freight and passenger trains;
  • The 71st Street Grade Separation, which will reduce congestion and improve safety for motorists and pedestrians; and,
  • Improved connections at the Argo and Canal Junction, which will increase capacity at Argo Yard, and allow more evenly distributed train traffic throughout the regional rail network.

The CREATE program is a unique partnership between the U.S. Department of Transportation, the State of Illinois, Amtrak, the City of Chicago, Chicago’s METRA commuter railroad, and the nation’s freight railroads.

This partnership is key, since Chicago is our nation’s leading railway hub. Twenty-five percent of the country’s freight rail traffic, and 46 percent of all intermodal traffic travels through this city. So the positive impact of this project will go beyond enhancing safety and quality of life for the residents of Chicago. These infrastructure upgrades will also increase the reliability and efficiency of railways across the country, which will help grow our economy and create jobs.

In addition, the Department’s grant programs reflect this Administration’s infrastructure principles, which include:

  • empowering decision making by state and local government;
  • allowing participation from the private sector; and,
  • streamlining project delivery.

On June 8th, 2018, the Department announced proposed INFRA grants totaling $1.5 billion. While this is a very significant investment of federal dollars, non-federal sources account for 62 percent of these selected projects’ total funding. The 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project has non-federal sources accounting for 64 percent of project funding, including more than $100 million from America’s Class One railroads.

It is also important to note that, through persistent communications with the Department from key leaders like Governor Rauner, Secretary Blankenhorn, the state’s Congressional delegation, local officials and the Association of American Railroads, you helped us understand the local and national significance of this project.

All these factors contributed to the state of Illinois’ success in earning this grant. This year, the Department of Transportation received 234 eligible applications for INFRA grant awards. Of these, only 26 projects – or fewer than 12 percent of the eligible applications – received an award. You can be proud that this proposal won in a very crowded and competitive field.

Congratulations again on receiving this grant. The U.S. Department of Transportation is proud to be your partner in building a stronger future for Illinois, and for America.