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Frequently Asked Questions
Public Involvement
Q. What community input in this project has happened so far?
A. The community’s input was factored in throughout the project’s Phase I environmental study and preliminary design, which was completed during 2010-2014. The project team used the advice of the community when making decisions. Stakeholder input helped the project team better understand how the project might affect the community, which in turn informed decisions about community-based improvements that could be included in the overall project. For example, viaduct and community mobility improvements are now included in the project in large part because of direct community input in support of these types of improvements.

During Phase I, there were six Community Advisory Group Meetings, three Community Meetings, six Public Meetings and a formal Public Hearing held in October 2014; 140 people attended the Public Hearing and 89 comments were received and responded to. Additional meetings with local elected officials took place throughout the Phase I planning process.

Public input has so far influenced the project in numerous ways, including:
  • Public input led to making community mobility and viaduct improvements part of the Purpose and Need Statement, which was an important factor in determining improvements that would be included in the project.
  • Potential community impacts, such as the need for land acquisition, were important screening criteria for developing the project scope.
  • Community input determined which community mobility improvements should be considered to help mitigate potential project impacts (i.e., street repaving, fixing sidewalks, new street trees, new curb ramps, etc.).
  • Noise walls, which lessen noise generated by moving trains, were included in the project based on input from affected community residents.

Q. How will the community provide input in the project going forward?
A. The project will continue to use IDOT’s Context Sensitive Solutions process to ensure stakeholder input during Phase II (final design) and Phase III (construction). The CREATE partners have developed a Phase II and Phase III Stakeholder Involvement Plan (SIP) that outlines the expected scope and sequencing of 75th St. CIP stakeholder involvement activities. The SIP ensures coordination on the commitments made by the CREATE partners at the end of Phase I, as well as stakeholder input on the upcoming decisions regarding detailed design elements and construction activities affecting the nearby surrounding communities. The SIP can be found on the project website, www.75thcip.org/getinvolved.php.

Q. Where can I find a copy of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?

A. A copy of the Final EIS and Record of Decision (ROD) is available on the project website (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 opportunities on this project?

A. Information about all current CREATE bid opportunities can be found on the CREATE website at www.createprogram.org/business.htm. Sign up for CREATE Program procurement notifications to receive an email notification when a new bid solicitation is opened. Be sure to select the procurement list.

Q. What agencies other organizations are officially 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. Other CREATE partners directly involved in the 75th St. CIP include the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways, the Association of American Railroads (AAR), CSX, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, Belt Railway of Chicago (BRC), and Metra.

Community Concerns
Q. How will the neighborhood benefit from the 75th St. CIP?
A. There will be transportation, economic and environmental benefits for the surrounding communities.

  • Transportation - The 75th St. CIP will elevate the CSX railroad over 71st Street just east of Bell Ave (alleviating congestion and delays), improve other existing viaducts that are in need of repair, and provide community mobility improvements (such as street repaving, fixing sidewalks, new street trees, new curb ramps, etc.) to further enhance safety and accessibility within the nearby communities.
  • Economic - The 75th St. CIP will provide economic benefits by supporting education in community schools and libraries through programs offered or financially sponsored by the 75th St. CIP project partners. The project will also implement job training programs and create and promote contracting opportunities for certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs).
  • Environmental - By removing conflicts between freight and passenger trains and eliminating the grade crossing at 71st St., the 75th St. CIP will eliminate 18,500 annual hours of delay; increase train reliability, speed and capacity; and eliminate congestion, delays and idling for motorists. This will result in air quality and energy improvements. Train noise impacts will be mitigated by sound walls and removal of track and street crossings, while landscaping improvements will be designed and constructed to lessen visual impacts and enhance parks and vacant properties.

Q. Will more trains pass through this area each day once the project is complete?

A. Yes. Train traffic in the region is expected to grow, whether or not the 75th St. CIP is constructed. However, the 75th St. CIP will reduce the negative impacts of this increased railroad activity on the surrounding communities. The amount and timing of increased freight rail traffic depends upon demand from shippers, which is based on regional and national economic growth and other factors. This potential future growth in overall train traffic was evaluated as part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process, which is available at the project website – 75th St. CIP EIS.

At the current time, Metra does not have plans to operate additional commuter trains along their part of the corridor, although the planned track improvements will allow future Metra and freight trains to pass through at the same time, rather than freight trains having to sit and idle while waiting for Metra as they do today.

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 directly. If you or someone you know are interested in applying for jobs with the railroads, go to the individual websites linked below 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.

There will be construction job opportunities for individuals available on CREATE’s 75th St. CIP, including carpentry, concrete framing, welding and more. Interested individuals can apply for training through the Highway Construction Careers Training Program (HCCTP) at Dawson Technical Institute of Kennedy-King College. Upon completion of the 16-week training program, participants will be in an approved pool of candidates considered for construction jobs. Click here for more information on the training program.

Click here for more CREATE jobs information.

Q. Will there be any permanent street closures as a result of this project?

A. Yes. Union Avenue will be permanently closed at the tracks along the 75th Street corridor. This is a location where many tracks will cross in the future, and keeping Union Avenue open would require a long underpass. During the Phase I part of this project’s design, several alternatives were considered at this location, including both keeping the street open and closing it. Based on community input it was determined that closing the underpass at this location would be the preferred option.

No other streets will be permanently closed as a result of this project, although there may be some temporary street closures during the construction phase. Details on construction impacts will be prepared and discussed as part of the community outreach process in the upcoming years.

Q. Will you be taking any homes, businesses or other properties?

A. The Forest Hill Flyover (project P3) does not require the acquisition of any privately owned property.

For the future Metra connection (project P2), the Phase I study identified one church and 25 residences that will need to be acquired. These properties are primarily located south of Hamilton Park in the area between 75th Street and Parnell Avenue and 74th Street and Normal Avenue. The Phase I study also identified three residential properties near Union Avenue and 18 vacant industrial properties near 80th Street Junction that will need to be acquired for the project.

The Phase II final design process will determine the final list of properties that will need to be acquired, and those impacted will be contacted by the project team to negotiate terms of sale and relocation.

The project team will follow the processes set out in the federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as amended. This 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 the cost of comparable replacement housing is covered as a project expense.

The project will also provide mortgage assistance for affected homeowners whose mortgage loan is higher than the fair market value of the property.

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. You may also refer to the Rail and City of Chicago Contact Information fact sheet. 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 will not affect traffic safety in the neighborhood because the railroad tracks are already separated from the street level. However, there are some locations in the project study area where streets directly cross the railroad tracks (called “at-grade crossings”).

As part of the CREATE Program, three at-grade crossings will be replaced with grade separations:

(1) 71st Street at the CSX tracks near Bell Avenue (2200 W),

(2) Columbus Avenue at the BRC tracks near Maplewood Avenue (2550 W), and

(3) 95th St. at the Union Pacific tracks near Eggleston Avenue (400 W).

The 71st Street road-rail crossing will be grade separated as part of the 75th St. CIP. The Columbus Avenue and 95th Street crossings will be grade separated by other CREATE projects that are proceeding concurrently with 75th St. CIP. The Columbus Avenue grade separation (project GS11) has begun Phase I design and environmental review and is funded for construction. The grade separation of 95th Street (GS21a) has also begun Phase I design and environmental review, but funding for construction has not yet been secured. For more information on the Columbus Avenue project please visit www.columbusbrc.org/ and for more information on the 95th Street project visit www.95thuprr.com.

Southwest of 79th and Kedzie, there are three other at-grade crossings within the project limits. The tracks at these crossings are used only by Metra commuter trains, and no increases in future train traffic are expected there due to the 75th St. CIP.

Q. What are the potential noise, vibration and visual impacts of this project?

A. The CREATE partners studied noise, vibration and visual impacts of the 75th St. CIP during the EIS process. Based on that, noise mitigation measures will be designed and implemented to reduce noise impacts.

The Forest Hill Junction (project P3) component of the 75th St. CIP will build a bridge to carry north-south CSX railroad tracks above east-west tracks used by Norfolk Southern, BRC, and Metra. These tracks currently cross each other at the same level, and” sound is generated every time train wheels cross over the gaps in the rails at the crossing. The noise from this crossing will be eliminated when the new flyover structure is in place.

Noise barriers are expected to be implemented as part of the future Belt Junction (project EW2) component of the 75th St. CIP. Currently there is funding in place only to design project EW2, not yet to build it. As such, the design of the noise barriers will take place from Spring 2019 through Fall 2021, and construction of the noise barriers will not begin until funding is secured for project EW2. For more information on project funding, see the response to the question “Why are you doing this project now?” below.

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 by this project. However, 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. Trains do create vibration that can be felt in areas close to the tracks. However, there is a very large difference between the point at which a human can sense vibration and the point at which vibration can cause damage to even the most fragile structures.

The CREATE partners have measured vibration in the study area and found that some residences will experience an increase in vibration levels. Railroad maintenance techniques can reduce vibration impacts but will not eliminate this impact; therefore, other transportation, economic and environmental improvements will be implemented in the community to help mitigate these unavoidable impacts.

Concerns regarding vibrations from ongoing railroad yard operations near the project area should be directed to the railroad responsible for the yard.

Q. Will this project improve old railroad viaducts in the surrounding neighborhoods?
A. Yes. Viaduct improvement work is included as part of the 75th St. CIP. Some of the work will include street resurfacing, drainage improvements, lighting replacement, sidewalk repair and ADA-compliant curb ramps. The project team will engage community members for additional input on where and when these improvements will be made. In future stages of the 75th St. CIP, some viaduct structures over city streets will also be replaced or rehabilitated. These structural improvements will be designed now but built in the future when additional funding is secured.

Routine maintenance to viaduct structures 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, the railroads have begun addressing some of the known maintenance issues through separate funding sources. If you see viaduct maintenance problems, call 311 and the dispatcher will direct your comment to the appropriate point of contact to address the problem. If you see an emergency at a viaduct, call 911.

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. During the Phase I process, residents, elected officials and Community Advisory Group members told the project team that poor street conditions at viaducts are a concern for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists, and make it more difficult to get around. Improvements to the streets under viaducts are included and will be funded as part of the 75th St. CIP. These improvements will be beneficial to pedestrians and bicyclists as well as motorists. In addition to improvements at viaducts, other local improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists are being analyzed as part of this project. The project team will engage community members for additional input on how and where to make these improvements.

Construction Concerns
Q. Why is this project happening now?

A. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) were completed in 2014. Since then, the CREATE partners have been seeking funding to finish the project’s design and construction. In June 2018, the CREATE partners received a $132 million grant through the federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program for the 75th St. CIP. This funding complemented $342 million in commitments from the railroads, IDOT, Cook County, and CDOT and will be sufficient to complete both design and construction for the first half of the 75th St. CIP (projects P3 and GS19) as well as design for the second half of the 75th St. CIP (projects P2 and EW2). While this funded work is taking place, the CREATE partners continue to seek the remaining funding needed to build the entire 75th St. CIP. Some of the community mobility improvements and mitigation measures will be implemented along with the construction of projects P3 and GS19, while others will be implemented when additional funding is identified and construction of the remaining projects (P2 and EW2) occurs.

Q. Who is paying for this project?
A. The $132 million federal award complements $111 million from the Illinois Department of Transportation, $116 million from the freight railroads, $78 million from Cook County, $23 million from Metra, $9 million from the City of Chicago and $5 million from Amtrak for a total investment of $474 million.

The non-federal funding contributions from public and private sources were negotiated amongst the CREATE partners prior to the 2017 grant application for federal INFRA funds. IDOT, Cook County and CDOT are contributing to the project’s implementation as the 75th St. CIP will provide public benefits for the regional economy, nearby neighborhoods, commuters and the environment.

Q. Why isn’t the entire project going to be built at this time?
A. The CREATE partners are building as much of the project as can be completed with funding resources identified so far. Due to construction and operations constraints, the projects must be built in sequence with P3 and GS19 going first and P2 and EW2 following. The CREATE partners are committed to seeking the remaining additional funds needed for construction of projects P2 and EW2 as well as implementation of the remaining community mobility improvements and mitigation measures to complete the 75th St. CIP.

Q. When will work start? When will work end?
A. Design will start on all four projects in 2019 and is expected to be complete in 2021. Construction for the funded portions of the 75th St. CIP are expected to begin with temporary track construction at Forest Hill Junction (project P3) from 2020 through 2021. Full construction of the flyover structure at Forest Hill Junction and 71st St. Grade Separation (projects P3 and GS19) is expected to begin in 2022 and be completed in 2024. Stakeholder involvement, public outreach and community mobility and viaduct improvements will occur throughout the project timeline.

image of the project timeline


Q. Will the construction project require temporary road closures? If so, will emergency vehicle and public transportation access be affected?

A. Most of the construction work will be on existing railroad property, not local roadways. Major road closures are not expected, but there will be some temporary impacts to street access at and near the affected railroad tracks during construction. Prior to construction, the project team will develop detailed traffic plans and determine emergency vehicle access routes. Emergency vehicles and buses will be re-routed when necessary following these plans. The 75th St. CIP project team is committed to providing early and timely information to the public and will utilize several methods to communicate construction schedules and impacts as they are known. 75th St. CIP communities and local aldermen will be regularly informed of construction schedules and updates.

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

The project team is also engaging and informing local Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) of design and construction contracting opportunities for the 75th St. CIP. Networking sessions will be held to allow networking and project education for interested DBEs. The first such event was held on January 24, 2019 at Kennedy-King College, and the next will be held in late 2020 or early 2021. In addition, goals for DBE participation on each design and construction package will be set in accordance to federal and state requirements. The CREATE partners will work with local associations to ensure local businesses are aware of these networking opportunities, and that these events are located within or adjacent to the project area.

Q. How will noise and air quality be affected at schools, playgrounds, parks and other community facilities near the proposed construction area?
A. As with any construction project, there may be a temporary increase in noise and emissions at certain times at locations where construction of the planned 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 at the project website, here – 75th Street CIP EIS.

Contractors will be responsible to comply with all applicable federal, state and local statutes, ordinances and directives with respect to managing and mitigating noise and air pollution during construction. The intent of these rules is to reduce the noise from heavy construction equipment and control the dust, smoke, fumes, rodent activity and the like 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.

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