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Plan which would save a billion gallons a year in gas usage - underfunded

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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-24-06 07:14 PM
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Plan which would save a billion gallons a year in gas usage - underfunded

Thursday, June 1, 2006

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Barack Obama (D-IL) today sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Chairman Kit Bond (R-MO) and Ranking Democrat Patty Murray (D-WA) urging them to fund the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE). CREATE is designed to modernize the Chicago railroad system and would significantly reduce rail and motorist traffic congestion, protect and promote local economic development, and decrease dependence on foreign crude oil.

Chicago is at the crossroads of the nation's rail network, but rail congestion not only ties up traffic and adds to pollution, it threatens our economic growth," said Durbin. "Our antiquated rail systems could cost Chicago businesses $2 billion and 17,000 jobs over the next twenty years.

Congress needs to do its part to ensure that rail traffic remains a safe and efficient means of moving cargo across the country, said Obama. This modernization of our rail systems in the Chicago area will help grow our economy and is crucial if Illinois is to remain the crossroads of our nation.

The $1.5 billion CREATE program was designed as a public-private partnership to decrease congestion in the Chicago area by removing 25 grade crossings and 6 rail to rail crossings by building flyovers or underpasses. So far CREATE has only received about 5 percent of what it needs in recent federal funding measures.

Durbin and Obama noted that lengthy transit times have discouraged Chicago area businesses from using rail transport and has caused them turn to more costly truck transport. In the letter, the Illinois lawmakers explain that CREATE would increase rail traffic speed from 9 miles per hour to 15 miles per hour, saving shippers $40 million per year in reduced inventory costs. Furthermore, if congested rail areas, known as choke points were reduced and 10% of goods currently shipped via truck were instead shipped by rail, fuel savings would approach one billion gallons per year. With these improvements, rail transport would become a clear alternative to trucking for Chicago area businesses.

Link to cached paged

07/17/2006 CN E. Hunter Harrison 2006 Fall Peak Planning

Items of Interest

On June 28, 2006, former Chairman Buttrey wrote a letter to railroads requesting their fall "peak-season" service plans. To see the former Chairman's letter, the railroads' responses to that letter, and prior years' peak-season letters and the railroads' responses to them, click here.

We nevertheless remain concerned about the fluidity of the rail network
due to congestion at certain gateways, particularly Chicago. As you are
aware, Congress provided substantially lower funding last year for the
CREATE infrastructure program than the level that had been sought by
CREATE'S proponents. As a result, it is anticipated that CREATE will
proceed at this time only with a subset of components commensurate
with the lower funding provided. As Phase 1 of CREATE does not include
any projects that benefit CN, we are not contributing financially to
CREATE for this phase of the initiative. CN remains a CREATE participant,
and we are hopeful that the currently unfunded portions of CREATE
ultimately will receive the necessary federal funding for this
publir/private partnership. However, even if additional significant
funding is provided by the government, it will take years before the full
benefits of CREATE can be realized. In the meantime, we continue to
believe that all of the railroads serving Chicago need to work together to
reduce the amount of traffic that moves unnecessarily through Chicago.

Link to pdf with the above info
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