CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago economy is getting a bit of good news Monday morning, as the huge Englewood Flyover railroad project stands to bring hundreds of jobs.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was present or the groundbreaking Monday for the long-awaited project. In three years, a bridge will be built over one of the city’s busiest railroad intersections.
The project is expected to create 1,500 jobs locally.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports
Politicians use the project as an example of how to create more jobs, and why it’s important to pass President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act.
The north-south bridge will carry Metra Rock Island Line trains over east-west Amtrak Norfolk Southern trains and transcontinental freight tracks above 64th and State streets, eliminating a bottleneck that currently snags the lines.
The north-south Metra tracks serve 78 Metra trains daily, and the east-west trains serve 14 Amtrak and 46 freight trains. On average, a train comes through the intersection every 10 minutes, causing congestion.
The Englewood Flyover project will cost $133 million. In June, it was approved for a stimulus grant, but LaHood said the project still needs more funding, which he said will only come from the American Jobs Act if it is passed.
“The time is over for politics. The time is over for playing games,” LaHood said. “We need to put our friends and neighbors to work on projects like we’re celebrating here – the Englewood overpass – this is a great project.”
Gov. Pat Quinn credit President Obama and his policies for the fact that the project is going to head.
“The Englewood Flyover, as it’s called, will allow trains to be able to pass each other without delay, without slowing things down for freight or passengers. This is really a great, great initiative,” said Gov. Pat Quinn. “It’s all due, when all is said and done, to the fact that we have a president who believes in transportation; who understands that if we’re going to have good jobs today and tomorrow, here in America, here in Illinois, we have to invest.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said projects such as the Englewood Flyover are key to positioning the city to move ahead.
“We are a transportation hub. Every investment dollar in our infrastructure is good not only for job creation, but for the economic competitiveness of the state of Illinois, the economic competitiveness of the city of Chicago, and the job growth and capacity of the people that live here and work here,” he said.
When the bridge is completed in the spring of 2014, it will also include space underneath to create a high-speed railroad from Chicago to St. Louis.