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Durbin Statement on Agreement that Will Allow FRA to Obligate $133 Million in Funds for Englewood Flyover

WASHINGTON, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–June 22, 2011.  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released a statement after Norfolk Southern (NS), the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Amtrak reached an development agreement will bring Federal Railroad Administration one step closer to obligating $133 million in funding for the Englewood Flyover. This agreement will move the project forward and help prevent any future attempts by House Republicans to rescind this funding that was appropriated through the Recovery Act.

“Earlier this year, I joined with my colleagues to stop an attempt by the House Republicans to rescind nearly $400 million in Illinois transportation funding – $133 million for the Englewood Flyover project,” said Durbin. “We were successful then, but the House threat remains. Just last week, House Republicans passed an appropriations bill out of committee that included a provision to rescind unobligated high speed rail funds. The sooner we can obligate the funds, the sooner we can begin putting people to work and moving these important projects forward while creating the good paying jobs we desperately need in Illinois.”

Earlier this year, Durbin sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, urging him to obligate as soon as possible nearly $400 million in Illinois transportation funding. Obligating – making a legal commitment to allow a project to move forward – this funding would have kept eight Illinois projects safe from rescission under the House Republican’s 2011 Budget plan. Obligation now will likely prevent future rescission threats. In his letter, Durbin wrote: “Stopping these projects now by arbitrarily rescinding their funding would kill hundreds of Illinois jobs and hold back millions in private investment from Illinois communities.”

The Englewood Flyover project will create an estimated 1,450 jobs in Chicago, and is the linchpin for the CREATE rail modernization program. Every day, roughly 1,200 trains pass through the Chicago region, supporting more than 38,000 jobs. But over the next 20 years, demand for freight rail service in Chicago is expected to nearly double. If rail capacity and infrastructure issues are not addressed, studies show the Chicago region will miss out on 17,000 additional jobs and $2 billion in annual economic production. CREATE will ensure that the Chicago region is prepared to handle those future increases in rail traffic.

Completing the Englewood Flyover will also reduce delays for Amtrak riders and shorten commutes on Metra’s Rock Island line, in addition to enabling the elimination of delays on the Southwest Service line. Approximately 78 Metra trains and 14 Amtrak trains, in addition to heavy freight rail traffic, pass through the crossing every day.

CREATE will reduce congestion with track, switch, and signal upgrades and by constructing overpasses and underpasses to end conflicts at both rail-rail and highway-rail crossings. It will also limit locomotive engine idling and improve air quality. CREATE is a first-of-its-kind partnership, bringing together the federal government, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Chicago Department of Transportation, Metra, and the Association of American Railroads. Ten CREATE projects have already been completed.

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Source: durbin.senate.gov

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