Durbin Meets With DOT Secretary Chao

Pushes for funding for 75th Street project & Rockford Airport; Urges DOT to take more active role in improving Amtrak’s on-time performance

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement after meeting with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao to discuss transportation projects important to Illinois:

Investing in our transportation infrastructure creates jobs, revitalizes neighborhoods, and grows small businesses across Illinois.  While transportation agencies in Illinois are working hard to improve their infrastructure and services, Washington must also do its part.  Today’s meeting with Secretary Chao was productive and I look forward to continuing to work with her to secure future federal funding for projects that are important to the growth of Illinois.

Photos of today’s meeting are available here.

In today’s meeting, Durbin urged Secretary Chao to approve an Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant application for CREATE’s 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project.  DOT is currently reviewing applications for the INFRA grant program, which is a competitive grant program created by the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act focused on reducing rail congestion. 

Durbin also pressed Secretary Chao for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding for Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) in order to keep up with their increased cargo demand.  Durbin helped secure $5 million for the construction of a 30,000 square yard cargo apron to provide additional aircraft parking.  Cargo volume is up nearly 40 percent since 2016 and expanding the cargo apron will provide much needed aircraft parking space.  But additional federal funds are still needed to complete the project.  

Finally, Durbin urged Secretary Chao and DOT to take a more active role in improving Amtrak’s on-time performance.  Amtrak’s Chicago-Champaign-Carbondale route, which serves three Illinois university communities, continues to be one of the worst performing routes in the country due to freight interference.  Last year, the route was only on-time 32 percent of the time because Canadian National Railway (CN) continues to give preference to its freight trains over Amtrak trains despite the decades-old statutory requirement to prioritize passenger trains.