CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Federal and state officials made an appearance in Chicago on Thursday to advocate for a $1.1 billion program to modernize rail infrastructure and upgrade Union Station.
The proposed Chicago Hub Improvement program would include $50 million in funding from the Rebuild Illinois capital program. Amtrak is applying for a federal grant, part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, worth $873 million to put toward the project.
The investment in Union Station consists of improving platforms, upgrading the concourse, and reactivating tracks for passenger use that were first built for the Old Post Office, increasing capacity for both Amtrak and Metra. The ventilation system will be upgraded, and the grant will also provide a new connection between Union Station and the St. Charles Air Line bridge over the south branch of the Chicago River near 18th Street.
“The Chicago Hub Improvement Program is an opportunity for new federal infrastructure funding to catalyze the rail system this region deserves,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This proposal would not only make much-needed improvements to Union Station and existing rail lines throughout Illinois and into Michigan — it would unlock a vast system of new and expanded passenger rail services throughout the Midwest, with Chicago’s Union Station serving as the hub. These kinds of investments allow our residents to more easily access places and opportunities beyond their immediate neighborhoods, and they open doors for new jobs and new businesses. The Chicago Hub Improvement Program, with its scope and scale, will have an enormously positive impact on people’s lives not just in Illinois but across the nation.”
Officials say the number of trains on Illinois tracks has doubled over the past 15 years, creating congestion, bottlenecks, and delays.