Lost in the shuffle of political news last Friday, Gov. Pat Quinn
unveiled a crucially important rail project that will be funded through
the stimulus program. Using $133 million in federal funds, construction
will begin later this year on the "Englewood Flyover," one leg of the
CREATE program, an iniatitive aimed at untangling freight congestion in the Chicago region. (Kari Lydersen provides some background on the underlying problem here.) The flyover is essentially a bridge at 63rd Street near the Dan Ryan that will carry Metra's Rock Island District line over the Norfolk Southern/Amtrak tracks, improving traffic for commuters
and cutting delays for freight. According to U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski --
a rail enthusiast who nonetheless voted "present" on the stimulus last year -- the project is
expected to create 1,450 jobs.
It's pretty remarkable that one railroad crossing on the South Side can have such a dramatic regional impact. Indeed, on Friday, Amtrak chair Thomas Carper called it the "single biggest source of delays in the Midwest."