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CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) – A $150 million dollar publicly and privately funded construction project on the far Southeast Side will lower roads and raise bridges to improve commerce.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, the project will make major changes at the intersection of 130th Street and Torrence Avenue, where trains trucks and cars all share the same grade.
The project included plans to lower the streets and build two new train bridges for the Norfolk Southern Railroad.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
“This crossing that we’re doing here today has 32,000 vehicles a day, 24 freight trains,” Gov. Pat Quinn said. “That’s a lot of hours of delay.”
State officials estimated the 32,000 vehicles that use the crossing each day are delayed a combined total of 200 hours daily.
“For 18 years that I’ve represented this community, I’ve been hearing about this,” State Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) said.
The intersection is right outside the Ford plant, creating problems for Ford employees and suppliers.
Ford spokeswoman Mary Culler said the project will have a significant impact.
“We have a lot of employees who get stuck at the railroad crossing now, they can’t really get into the plant easily. We have suppliers who are trying to get logistics here,” she said. “If the train stops then it really does make it difficult for us to continue to make our products on time.”
Jim Sweeney, business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 said the project would make the trains more efficient as well.
“Trains coming from the west coast trying to get to the east coast take 24 to 48 hours to get through this area,” he said.
The project will be funded by $64.8 million from the state’s capital construction program, according to the governor’s office. The remaining funding will come from the federal government, the city, Norfolk Southern Railroad, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District and Ford.
The project is expected to create more than 1,200 jobs and is scheduled to be completed in 2015.