Ground Breaks On 75th Street Rail Yard Project

Bernie Tafoya
October 01, 2018 - 1:53 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Politicians of every stripe were out at a South Side rail yard on Monday morning touting a project that could mean reduced delays for freight and commuter rail lines and for motorists.

The rail yard at 75th Street east of Western Avenue is where east-west and north-south tracks converge. And what that means is bottlenecks.

According to Jeff Sriver, Director of Transportation Planning and Programming for the Chicago Department of Transportation, "Metra comes through here about 30 times a day and all the freight activity has to stop when Metra comes through. But then the freight trains cross the other freight train’s paths, so they all have to wait for one another. It’s like a big expressway interchange controlled by a stop sign."

"We’re going to take one set of train tracks that go north-south and build a bridge so that they go over a set of about five tracks that go east and west so they don’t interfere with each other any more," he added.

WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced Monday at the railyard the infusion of $132 million in grant money to cover the cost of much of the first half of the project.

"One quarter of every freight train in America comes through 75th Street and tens of thousands of hours have been lost and are continuing to be lost by people having to wait," said Governor Bruce Rauner. 

"We’ve had a bottleneck between commuter and cargo rail traffic for years. This will allow people to get to and from work, from kids’ school without having to wait literally an hour at the impasse that happens here," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Construction is not likely to begin for another couple of years and will not be completed, according to Sriver, until around 2025.