link to Chicago Department of Transportation Web Site CREATE Program logo Link to home page of the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project web site

Frequently Asked Questions
Community Concerns
Q. How will the neighborhood benefit from the 75th St. CIP?
A. Benefits of the 75th St. CIP were determined as part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process and include the following:
  • Reductions in idling trains will have positive impacts on noise and air pollution.
  • The 71st Street highway-rail grade crossing will be grade separated, improving safety and reducing delays for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists.
  • The pounding noise due to the rail-rail crossing at 75th Street east of Western Avenue will be eliminated
  • The elimination of conflicts with freight trains will reduce delays for Metra service and improve reliability on the SouthWest Service Line. This improvement will benefit residents served by the Wrightwood Station at 79th Street and Kedzie Avenue.

More detailed information on project benefits are presented in the Final EIS, which is available here – 75th Street CIP EIS.

Q. Will more trains pass through our neighborhood each day once the project is complete?
A. Yes. Train traffic in the region will grow, whether the 75th St. CIP is constructed or not. The freight railroads predict that there will be increases in traffic based on anticipated demand from shippers. In addition, trains that did not use this route in the past due to delays may use it after the 75th Street CIP is constructed. The amount and timing of train increases will depend on the economy and other factors. This potential future growth in overall train traffic was evaluated as part of the EIS process, which is available here – 75th Street CIP EIS

Metra does not plan additional trains at this time.

Q. Will any businesses or jobs be displaced as a result of this project? 

A. The project will not require any displacement of local businesses.

Q. How can we find out about jobs with the 75th St. CIP or with the railroads? 

A. The CREATE team is committed to helping local residents find out about job opportunities and requirements on CREATE projects and in the railroad industry. Jobs with the CREATE Program are broken down into two broad categories: 1) jobs in the railroad industry; and 2) jobs on CREATE construction projects. 

The railroad industry hires regularly and is currently in hiring mode. If you are interested in applying for jobs with the railroads, go to their websites to apply for railroad jobs.

Amtrak

Go to www.amtrak.com, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Careers”

BNSF

Go to www.bnsf.com and click on “Work at BNSF”

BRC

Go to www.beltrailway.com and click on “Employment”

CN

Go to www.cn.ca, and click on “Careers"

Canadian Pacific

Go to www.cpr.ca and click on “Careers”

CSX Corporation

Go to www.csx.com and click on “Working at CSX”

Metra

Go to http://metrarail.com and click on “Careers”

Norfolk Southern

Go to www.nscorp.com and click on “Work at NS”

Union Pacific

Go to www.up.com and click on “Careers”

Construction work on the 75th St. CIP and other CREATE projects will be done by both railroad workforces and private contractors, each having their own hiring processes and requirements. To apply with the railroads, visit the websites above. Most private contractors require that their workers have union credentials. If you have a union card, talk to your local union representative about being placed with a contractor that works on the CREATE Program. To get a union card, you will need to enroll in a pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship program. Work with a local employment resource center, or visit www.illinoisworknet.com for information about training programs.

Click here for more CREATE jobs information.

Q. How will new construction impact neighborhoods? 

A. A new, elevated structure connecting two rail lines and carrying passenger rail trains through the neighborhood south of Hamilton Park will be constructed as part of the 75th St. CIP. Its alignment was selected with overwhelming public support. Union Avenue will be permanently closed at the tracks at the 75th Street corridor. The analysis of the alternatives considered ways to minimize impacts, including to keep existing streets open to vehicular and pedestrian traffic to maintain community cohesion.
For the proposed closure of Union Avenue at the 75th Street rail corridor, the City of Chicago Department of Transporation will determine whether the road closure will be processed as a permanent road closure, thereby allowing the City to retain future rights to the land, or if the road closure will be presented to the City Council as a vacation. If processed as a vacation, ownership of the closed segment of Union Avenue would turn the land over to the railroad. A final decision on this issue is anticipated during the Phase II design.

Q. Are any residential relocations anticipated with the proposed improvement?

A. The 75th St. CIP Project Team has made every effort to minimize the need to acquire property. It has worked closely with the community, including the Joint Community Advisory Group, to minimize this impact.

Property impacts associated with the 75th St. CIP will occur near 80th Street Junction, Union Avenue, Forest Hill Junction, and in the neighborhood south of Hamilton Park, where the structure connecting the Metra SWS Line to the RID Line will be built. The location of the new, elevated structure was coordinated with the Joint Community Advisory Group and discussed at multiple public meetings. The proposed alignment received overwhelming support, and will be built as part of the project. 

We have not started contacting property owners about acquiring their property. Property owners impacted by the project will be contacted when the property acquisition process begins during Phase II. A definitive timeline for this process cannot be provided now because the funding required to advance this project has not been identified. Please continue to check for project updates and future activities. Additional information on the land acquisition process is available here -  IDOT’s Land Acquisition Services.

Q. When will the property appraisal, offer and acquisition process start?

A. At this time, a definitive timeline for this process cannot be provided because the funding required to advance this project has not been identified. Please continue to check for project updates and future activities. You can obtain Information on the property acquisition process here -  IDOT’s Land Acquisition Services.

Q. What steps are being taken to minimize the disruption of the community and protect homes from demolition?

A. Any necessary property acquisition will follow the federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 and the IDOT Land Acquisition Manual. This federal act ensures that owners are fairly compensated for the value of their property, that renters and owners receive relocation assistance, including moving expenses, and that any other costs associated with comparable replacement housing are covered. Residents would be given the chance to relocate within the community if possible. We will allow time for orderly relocation in the process. 

Q. Who do I call to report an issue with the railroads in my neighborhood? 
A. Whenever you have a concern about maintenance near railroad tracks or viaducts, please call 311. The City of Chicago operator will ask questions and get the information to the right people to address the problem. In the case of an emergency or trespassing on railroad property, please call 911.

Environmental and Safety Concerns

Q. If more trains pass through the neighborhood in the future, how will safety be affected, and what safety improvements will be included in the project? 

A. In most of the project area, additional trains should not affect safety in the neighborhood because tracks are already separated from the street level to reduce locations where residents would come in conflict with the trains. There are multiple locations throughout the project study area where streets cross the railroad tracks (called “at-grade crossings”).

As part of the CREATE Program, three of the at-grade crossings causing the most conflicts are planned to be replaced with grade separations: (1) Columbus Avenue at Maplewood Avenue (2532 W), (2) 71st Street near Bell Avenue (2232 W), and (3) 95th St. at Eggleston Avenue (431 W). We will replace the 71st Street crossing as part of this project, and the Columbus Avenue and 95th Street crossings would be addressed in separate CREATE projects. The City of Chicago Department of Transportation initiated Phase I studies for the grade separation of Columbus Avenue and 95th Street. For information on the Columbus Avenue project please visit http://www.columbusbrc.org/ and for information on the 95th Street project contact the City of Chicago Department of Transportation.

South of 79th and Kedzie, there are three other at-grade crossings within the project limits. We anticipate only minor increases in train traffic along this section. 

Q. What are the potential air and noise concerns? 

A. We recognize that some residents have concerns related to air quality and noise, and analyzing the project’s impacts to air quality and noise was a part of our technical investigations. Our team of experts analyzed the impact to air quality and noise due to the project. The results of these analyses are included in the Final EIS, which is available here – 75th Street CIP EIS

Q. How much faster will the trains go as a result of the project?

A. The maximum speeds for the trains will not be increased. Trains will be able to complete their trips more quickly because they won’t have to stop and wait for other trains to pass through junctions. 

Q. What about train vibration in my neighborhood? 
A. Under current federal regulations, the project team cannot address past vibration damage from railroad damage. We measured existing vibration levels in the project area, analyzed changes in vibration levels as a result of the project, and evaluated the feasibility of mitigation measures to reduce train vibration in the Final EIS, which is available here – 75th Street CIP EIS.

Q. Will this project improve viaducts in the neighborhoods?
A. Yes. Viaduct work is included as part of the 75th St. CIP. The work will include street resurfacing, drainage improvements; lighting replacement, sidewalk repair, and ADA-compliant curb ramps. A definitive timeline for this work cannot be provided now because the funding required to advance this work has not been identified. Please continue to check for project updates and future activities.

Routine maintenance to viaducts is not eligible for 75th St. CIP federal funds and is considered separate from the project itself. However, in response to community concerns expressed to the 75th St. CIP Project Team, CDOT, IDOT, and the railroads have begun addressing some of the known maintenance issues through separate funding sources.

Q. Will pedestrian and bicycle access be included in the project?
A. The 75th St. CIP team is using the Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process to find transportation solutions that balance the needs of the project with the concerns and values of the surrounding community. The 75th St. CIP team has heard from area residents that viaducts are generally uninviting to pedestrians and bicyclists alike. Viaducts are included and will be funded as part of the 75th St. CIP. These improvements will be beneficial to pedestrians and bicyclists. See response to preceding question for specific improvements.  In addition, the 75th St. CIP will follow the standards set forth in the Complete Streets Act. This legislation sets standards for pedestrians and bicycle access on roadway projects. 

Construction Concerns

Q. When and where will construction start?

A. The Record of Decision (ROD) was completed in September 2014. Final design plans are needed and any required property must be purchased before construction can begin.  A definitive timeline for this work cannot be provided now because the funding required to advance this project has not been identified. Please continue to check for project updates and future activities.

Q. Who is paying for this project?

A. Funding could come from a variety of sources, federal, state, and county governments, railroads, Metra, and the City of Chicago.

Q. How much will this project cost?

A. Based on the results of a formal FHWA Cost Estimate Review completed in 2014 as part of the Final EIS, the total cost for the project was estimated to range from approximately $952 to $984 million dollars.

Q. Is the money available for construction?

A. Not at this time. As funding for CREATE is received from various sources, it is allocated to projects that are ready for construction at that time. Since the 75th St. CIP will not be ready for construction for several years, funding has not yet been allocated. 

Q. Will the construction project result in road closures? If so, what will be the impact on emergency vehicle access and public transportation routes? 

A. For the most part, no. Most of the construction work will be on existing railroad right-of-way, not on local roadways; however, Union Avenue will be closed at the 75th Street rail embankment and cul-de-sacs will be constructed on either side. Prior to construction, we will develop detailed plans for motorist, pedestrian, bicycle, transit and emergency vehicle routes that may change and share these with the public. 

Q. During construction, what will be the impact to businesses in the area?
A. Most businesses will not be affected by the project. The majority of construction would take place on railroad property and would not affect local businesses. At locations where construction would take place at street level, continued access to businesses would be a priority in planning the project. 

Q. There are several schools, playgrounds, parks, and other community recreational facilities near the proposed construction area. Should we be concerned about increased noise and air quality during the construction project? 

A. As with any construction project, there may be a temporary increase in noise and vehicle emissions at certain times at locations where construction of the rail improvements is taking place. As part of the EIS process, potential construction impacts were evaluated. The results of these analyses are included in the Final EIS, which is available here – 75th Street CIP EIS

Contractors will be responsible for complying with all applicable federal, state and local statutes, ordinances, and directives with respect to eliminating excessive noise and pollution of air during construction. These rules are intended to reduce the noise from heavy construction equipment and control the dust, smoke, and fumes from construction equipment and other worksite operations. The Chicago Department of Environment’s website states, “The Environmental Noise Ordinance strives to set a balance between the needs of daytime productivity and nighttime tranquility, and between reasonable and unreasonable noise.” These ordinances must be followed unless the contractor has secured a special waiver from the City of Chicago. For more information, visit the Chicago Department of Environment’s website at www.cityofchicago.org/environment or call 311.

Public Involvement

Q. How can I see a copy of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)?
A. A copy of the Final EIS and ROD is available on this web site (http://www.75thcip.org/envstudies.html). Interested stakeholders and residents can join the mailing list to receive project announcements and invitations to any future public meetings.

Q. Where can contractors get information about bidding on this project?

A. There is currently no construction funding available for this project, which is several years away. However, information about all current CREATE bid opportunities can be found on the CREATE website at www.createprogram.org/business.htm.

Q. What agencies are involved in this project?

A. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) are the lead government agencies for this project and their leads are listed below. Other CREATE partners include the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), the American Association of Railroads (AAR), Cook County, and Metra.

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