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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Construction set to start on $32 million Chicago-area Argo Connections project NEWSWIRE

Construction set to start on $32 million Chicago-area Argo Connections project NEWSWIRE

By Richard Wronski | April 26, 2019

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CREATE ground breaking project Chicago
CREATE ground breaking project Chicago
At a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Argo Connections project are (from left) Ian Jeffries, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads; Acting Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Omer Osman; U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill.; Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle; and CSX Transportation General Manager – Midwest William Blanchetti.
Richard Wronski
CHICAGO — Construction is scheduled to begin in May on the Argo Connections project, a key portion of the massive Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program intended to improve the flow of freight and passenger trains through the congested heart of the Midwest’s rail system.

Federal, state, and local officials were on hand Friday for a groundbreaking ceremony in suburban Summit, Ill., to mark the start of the two-year, $32 million project, which takes its name from the nearby rail yard and former Argo Corn Products plant, now known as Ingredion Inc.

“This is the epitome of what a public-private partnership should be,” said Ian Jeffries, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, one of the CREATE partners. The others include the U.S. Department of Transportation, Illinois Department of Transportation, Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways, Chicago Department of Transportation, the major freight railroads, Amtrak, and Metra.

The Argo Connections project is one of 70 projects in the CREATE Program. The project will build a new double-track connection and crossovers between the Belt Railway of Chicago and Illinois Harbor Belt/CSX Transportation line in Summit. This project will connect the new CREATE Beltway and East-West Corridors.

According to CREATE officials, the project will make improvements for the 116 freight trains, six Metra trains (Heritage Corridor) and 10 Amtrak trains (Lincoln and Texas Eagle Services) that traverse the corridor daily. The new double-track connection will allow speeds of 25 mph, providing increased flexibility for dispatchers and reduced time switching train cars destined for local industry. Ingredion handles up to 200 train cars per day. Once complete, this project will allow access to the new main train tracks around Clearing Yard on the new East-West Corridor.

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $132 million to the CREATE partners through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program. The federal investment combined with state, local, and private money will fund the $32 million construction for the Argo Connections project.

The Argo Connections is the 33rd CREATE project. To date, 30 projects have been completed, with five more projects under construction and 17 in various stages of design.

“The success of the CREATE program has been tremendous,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., who represents the area and who helped secure the federal funding for the program starting back in 2005. “What people really care about is making sure that rail (traffic) continues to flow through the Chicago area.”

Moving freight traffic move more quickly through the area will clear the way for improved Amtrak and Metra train service, said Lipinski, the chairman of the railroad subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “This is something that helps everybody,” he said.

Also on hand for the event were Acting Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Omer Osman; Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle; CSX General Manager – Midwest William Blanchetti, and local officials.

10 thoughts on “Construction set to start on $32 million Chicago-area Argo Connections project NEWSWIRE

  1. It’s the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. The BRC has trackage rights over the IHB; the two cross the former GM&O/ICG at Argo.

  2. The plan with maps and project breakouts can be found at:

    http://www.createprogram.org/factsheets/B9_EW.pdf

    This news brief was too high level and I had to look it up to make sense of it.

    Amtrak/Metra/CN would get zero interruptions if they raised it up and over the IHB coming over the Des Plaines River/Ship Canal. They could still put sidings in for local industrial lead support.

    This diamond in Summit has been the bane of Metra since SWS started.

    But I get it, increase rail capacity in and out of BRC with IHB and this will stop backups and congestion that blocks the CN line. And also “pass throughs” that are not going to be classified or humped can blow through Clearing Yard without delays.

    But the IHB draw bridge over the Ship Canal is only a 2 track main. Why do I feel like they are simply moving the choke point west?

  3. To be precise, the railroad here is the B&OCT – which still exists as a separate corporation under CSX. Under an agreement in existence since 1896 between the predecessors of the IHB and B&OCT, the IHB has control of the B&OCT between Blue Island and McCook with the IHB in charge of operating the line. Hence the reference in the article to the IHB/CSX line (although as pointed out in the comments the article mistakenly called it the ILLINOIS Harbor Belt). Much of what the IHB operates on and is shown on many maps as the IHB is in fact owned by either CSX, NS, B&OCT or Conrail. In addition to 100 percent ownership of Gibson yard and 100 percent ownership of other parts of the railroad used by the IHB, Conrail remains the owner of 51 percent of IHB’s stock.

  4. Eight Metra Heritage Corridor weekday commuter trains use this crossing, not just the six stated in this article.

  5. I agree with John Rice about the unfulfilled benefits of a grade separation at what used to be known as Argo (it’s Canal now, I guess?) crossing. That would allow increased Metra traffic, and might make them think twice about routing any high-speed service over the old Rock Island route between Joliet and Chicago.

    Mr. Molony–the current count of Metra trains here is not six (as the article states), nor is it eight (as you state): it’s seven…three in and four out.

    The track known as IHB is in fact owned by B&OCT as far “west” (timetable direction) as Superior. I don’t know whether that’s a control point any more since IHB was rebuilt. It’s in the city of McCook, but last I heard, the railroads’ McCook was the crossing of the B&OCT (IHB) and BNSF (ATSF). B&OCT has trackage rights over the IHB-owned track as far as Proviso and Bensenville, and IHB dispatches the B&OCT-owned trackage between Superior and Blue Island.

    (History: the B&OCT was supposed to build this line to Franklin Park, and beyond to a connection with the CNW and MILW near Mayfair. That never happened, but much of the right-of-way is now occupied by Forest Preserve Avenue, a diagonal street in Chicago’s Northwest Side.)

    The bridge over the canal is not a drawbridge, nor has it been for decades since a derailment took it out. It’s a fixed span. A new truss structure replaced the “half-a-drawbridge” truss that had been left at the point, with a girder bridge taking care of the other half. That bridge used to have some nasty equipment and weight restrictions on it. An added track over the canal might be feasible some time.

  6. There’s roughly 8 scheduled trains in and out of the BRC to the IHB daily through Argo, 6 UP, 2 BNSF. Not exactly the volume needed to create months of service disruption to add a crossover to the BRC. 116 freights daily is a real stretch, we have excess capacity on the IHB. The only thing with this project really needed is powering up the hand throw crossovers at CP Canal to the CN in the southeast quadrant, something they could have done last year when they added CP Argo on the CN south of the Canal diamond but didn’t and extending the B&O siding on the IHB from the hand throw switch at 82nd St to CP 238. The rest is pointless and that money could be used elsewhere.

  7. Metra operates eight Heritage Corridor trains each weekday – three inbound and four outbound revenue trains, plus one non-revenue equipment positioning train.

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