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Metra UP North Rebuild in Chicago Receives $117M Mega Grant from USDOT

by: Jessica Hoover
The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded nearly $1.2 billion to nine projects across the country through the National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) discretionary grant program, made possible by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Mega grant program funds projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs and will invest a total of $5 billion into the United States’ infrastructure through 2026.

"Some infrastructure projects are so large and complex that they defy traditional funding systems — and so significant that they become iconic parts of the American landscape,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “After receiving over 100 applications, we are proud to fund these nine infrastructure megaprojects across the country to create jobs, strengthen our supply chains, expand our economy, and renew America’s built landscape.”

Metra Commuter Railroad was awarded a $117 million Mega grant for the modernization and replacement of the 120-year-old bridges and infrastructure from Fullerton Avenue to Addison Street along Metra’s UP North Line.

“The bridges we are replacing are about 120 years old and are exceedingly in need of costly maintenance and repairs to ensure safe operations,” said Michael Gillis, Spokesman for Metra. “The outdated bridges also lack numerous safety features that are common elements of contemporary bridges, such as sacrificial girders that make bridges more resilient against potential truck strikes.”

One of the most heavily used lines in the Chicago area with an average weekday ridership of 34,600, the UP North Line provides rail service to passengers between downtown Chicago and Kenosha, Wisconsin. Main elements of the Metra UP North Rebuild project will include the replacement of 11 railroad bridges from Fullerton Avenue to Cornelia Avenue; four miles of track structure; and more than 1.75 miles of retaining walls from Fullerton Avenue to Addison Street.

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In addition, the project will include shifting the tracks to the west between Fullerton Avenue and Addison Street; lowering Roscoe Street and Cornelia Avenue; refurbishing the existing Lincoln/Addison bridge; and some utility work along the project corridor. Each replaced bridge will also have a walkway and sacrificial beams, street repaving, underpass lighting, and pedestrian curb improvements.

Work on the Metra UP North Rebuild project — currently estimated to cost $323.1 million — is expected to take about four years and is estimated to begin in 2024. The project will result in numerous benefits to the Chicago area, including:

  • Modernized infrastructure along the corridor
  • Improved accessibility from reconstructed underpasses
  • Improved energy efficiency, reduction of oil and diesel fuel dependence, and improved air quality through a reduction in congestion-related emissions
  • Improved customer experience through increased passenger comfort and reliability

“Metra is grateful to the entire Illinois congressional delegation and other officials who supported our grant application and advocated on our behalf,” Gillis said.

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