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April 24, 2000

Governor Releases $6.4 Million For Commuter Rail Improvements In Chicago

SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan today released $6.4 million in Illinois FIRST funds for the rehabilitation of two aging commuter rail stations, the upgrading 12 stations for persons with disabilities and other improvements to the Metra rail lines in the Chicago area.

"Modernizing these rail stations will make them safer and more convenient for persons with disabilities, as well as other commuters," Ryan said. "These public transportation projects are an important part of the Illinois FIRST program for improving the state's overall transportation infrastructure."

Illinois FIRST will fund the rehabilitation of the 75-year-old 51st-53rd and the 55th-56th-57th Street rail stations in Hyde Park. Those two stations and 10 others also will be upgraded to fully comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

$3.3 million of the $6.4 million in Illinois FIRST funds will go towards ongoing upgrades of train signal and switching systems in downtown Chicago to improve train movements in and out of the Union and Northwestern stations.

A two-and-a-half mile long track siding extension will be completed on the Metra North Central Service rail line to allow incoming and outgoing trains to pass each other without slowing down. The line currently does not have double tracks between Antioch and Franklin Park.

"These improvements to the rail lines, together with the rehabilitation of the stations, will help make commuter travel more reliable and safer," Ryan added.

The following stations will be improved to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act: Elmwood Park, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Naperville, Norwood Park, Orland Park, Park Ridge, Rogers Park and Washington Heights.

For mass transit, the Illinois FIRST funds match $25.4 million in federal transit funds for a total investment of $31.8 million for infrastructure improvements.


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