Chicago: America's Freight Rail Speed Bump

John Schwartz looks at Chicago's rail mess, which seems entirely inadequate a word to describe the "sprawling traffic jam" that keeps some rail traffic crawling through the city at an average speed of 1.13 miles per hour.
May 8, 2012, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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With a quarter of all rail traffic in the nation rolling through Chicago, and freight volume in the United States expected to grow by more than 80 percent in the next 20 years, the city's abominable rail tangle isn't just a local embarrassment, it's a national economic threat.

"Now, federal, state, local and industry officials are completing the early stages of a $3.2 billion project to untangle Chicago's rail system - not just for its residents, who suffer commuter train delays and long waits in their cars at grade crossings, but for the rest of the nation as well," reports Schwartz.

"The program, called Create (an acronym for Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program), is intended to replace 25 rail intersections with overpasses and underpasses that will smooth the flow of traffic for the 1,300 freight and passenger trains that muscle through the city each day, and to separate tracks now shared by freight and passenger trains at critical spots. Fifty miles of new track will link yards and create a second east-west route across the city, building redundancy into the overburdened system."

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Published on Monday, May 7, 2012 in The New York Times
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