Durbin, Lipinski, and Rush Pledge to Fight for Federal Funding Promised to Englewood Flyover

In Illinois, Drastic Spending Cuts Would Seize More Than $390 Million Already Awarded, Put Nearly 10,000 Jobs in Jeopardy and Stifle Economic Recovery

[CHICAGO, IL] – A $133 million federal grant to fund the Englewood Flyover, a linchpin of the job-creating CREATE rail modernization program, is now at risk as a result of the House Republican spending bill, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, U.S. Representatives Dan Lipinski and Bobby Rush said today. The project’s funding is immediately eliminated in the House of Representatives spending bill for the current fiscal year (FY11), which was approved along party lines by the House early Saturday morning.  The bill cuts more than $6.8 billion in transportation spending to states and communities which have already been promised funding. The elimination of funding for the Englewood Flyover project will cost as many as 1,450 Chicagoland jobs if the bill becomes law. The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

“Almost one year ago, members of the Englewood community and commuters across Chicago received some great news: the Englewood Flyover project was awarded $133 million in high speed rail funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the largest single federal grant for the CREATE project in its history. Today we are here to tell you that the House Republicans want to stop this grant and the jobs it creates. Investing this funding right here on the Southside would mean more jobs today and more jobs for the future. But, if the House has its way, that progress would screech to a halt immediately.” 

“This mindless cut is a clear signal that the House-passed bill is not the product of a thoughtful effort. Yes, we need to cut spending, but we need to do so in a responsible manner. We shouldn’t abandon our commitments to creating jobs and economic development in the midst of this recession,” Durbin said.

“As my record reflects, I believe that the national debt is a threat to America’s long-term economic health and that we need to cut unnecessary spending to assure our future prosperity,” said Lipinski. “But we can’t cut with our eyes closed; we must continue to make investments that are critical for the future of our nation, especially our middle class. The Englewood Flyover provides a tremendous bang for the buck, and cutting it now would be incredibly short-sighted. It will create 1,450 jobs at a time when there aren’t nearly enough middle class jobs available. It will reduce delays on Metra’s Rock Island District line and is the critical first step toward eliminating delays on the Southwest Service line, benefiting 40,000 riders every weekday. As a linchpin of the CREATE rail modernization program, it will boost economic growth for years to come. Having secured the first $100 million for CREATE in 2005, I believe it’s vital we continue to move the program forward.”

“When you talk about the Englewood Flyover, you’re talking about a concrete investment in local jobs,” said Lipinski. “Just last month, Chicagoland traffic congestion was named the worst in the country. Congestion is a job killer, costing Chicago-area businesses $3.3 billion and local consumers $1,738 each on average annually. By keeping truck traffic off our roads and making commuting on Metra faster and more reliable, the Englewood Flyover will provide badly needed congestion relief that keeps our economy moving. Maintaining funding for it is essential.”

“Since its inception, I have been an ardent supporter of the CREATE program, as a vital and necessary public infrastructure program to help relieve the burdensome freight rail congestion in the Chicago area and as a vehicle to stimulate our economy and provide meaningful jobs to my constituents,” said Rush. “H.R. 1, as passed by House Republicans, last weekend, eliminates a $133 million CREATE construction project in the Englewood community of my congressional district.  I will vigorously continue to fight efforts by Republicans in Washington to roll back the clock on progress made by Democrats to get our nation moving forward.”

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.