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Project Summary | Train and Road Traffic Problems | Fixing the Problems

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Project Area Map

75th Street Corridor Improvement Project Summary
The 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project (75th St. CIP) is the largest project in the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE). The project is located in the Chicago neighborhoods of Ashburn, Englewood, Auburn Gresham and West Chatham along two passenger and four freight rail lines.

The CREATE project team includes the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways (Cook County DOTH), Metra, Amtrak and the Association of American Railroads (AAR). The CREATE team - with help from the local community - identified the train and road problems in the study area in a document called the “project purpose and need.” This team developed and evaluated several reasonable alternatives to address these problems and then prepared an Environmental Impact Statement to determine how the railroad tracks and roadways in the 75th St. CIP neighborhoods can be “untangled” so that trains, pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles can more easily move through the community. IDOT evaluated the environmental impacts of carrying forward these alternatives, including taking no action at all, which is known as the No-Build Alternative.

Train and Road Traffic Problems or "Purpose and Need"

Delays at the Forest Hill Junction
75th Street and Western Avenue
The north-south CSX railroad tracks cross the east-west tracks of three other railroads at this location, causing delays for freight and passenger trains waiting for other trains to cross.

Delays at the Belt Junction
near 75th Street and Loomis Avenue
Five railroad tracks converge onto two tracks at this location. Most trains need to cross to another track, much like changing lanes on a highway. Usually, only one train is able to pass through this junction at a time.

photo of the Forest Hill diamond crossing
Forest Hill Diamond Crossing

Delays at the 80th Street Junction

near 80th Street and Wallace Avenue
Six tracks converge onto two tracks at this location. The total train traffic is more than the railroad tracks can handle, which causes freight and passenger trains to back up.

Junctions are Too Close Together
throughout area
Due to the length of most freight trains, a train cannot stop for one junction without blocking another junction. To prevent gridlock, trains must wait beyond the study area so the junctions remain clear. This stopping and re-starting causes delays and limits the amount of train traffic that can pass through the area.

Environmental Issues
throughout area
Idling trains can create noise and air pollution.

Delays for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers at 71st Street Crossing
71st Street near Bell Avenue
At this rail-rail crossing, pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers using 71st Street must wait for trains to pass. This crossing may also present a safety risk for drivers and pedestrians.

railroad bridge photo
Some viaducts in the project area are in poor condition.

Poor Conditions at Viaducts
along 75th Street rail corridor
The poor conditions at some viaducts—bridges where road traffic crosses underneath railroad tracks—can cause safety issues for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.

Limits on Metra's SouthWest Service Line
Metra’s SouthWest Service runs on only one track located near Wrightwood Station to Western Avenue. This limits the flexibility and reliability of Metra service.

Metra Conflicts with Freight Trains
Metra trains cross freight train tracks at several locations within the study area, including the Forest Hill Junction and the Belt Junction. There are also conflicts between freight rail lines and Metra’s SouthWest Service in the shared corridor between the study area and Union Station. During peak commuter periods only Metra trains are allowed to run in these areas. As a result, freight trains - and sometimes Metra trains - may encounter lengthy delays. The rail improvements will allow additional Metra trains to access LaSalle Street Station and passenger rail capacity gains at Union Station.

photo of the 71st Street highway-rail crossing
71st Street road-rail grade crossing

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