Published on : Friday, January 13, 2017
The City of Chicago’s ambitious plans to modernize and transform Chicago Union Station and the surrounding West Loop area received a major boost today with the announcement by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Amtrak, Metra and the RTA that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Build America Bureau and the City of Chicago are entering into an Emerging Projects Agreement (EmPA), under which Chicago can work closely with USDOT with the ultimate goal of seeking up to $1 billion in federal funding for the project.
“Today marks a major step forward both in the future of Union Station, and in the economic life of our city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “This modernization effort will improve the experience for everyone who travels through Union Station and tap the potential that the station has to serve as an anchor for further economic development of the West Loop and surrounding neighborhoods. I want to thank Secretary Foxx and the Build America Bureau for acknowledging the significance of this project and for all of our partners who have been working for the past several years to help get us to this point today.”
“The Build America Bureau makes it easier for big multimodal projects like Chicago’s Union Station to move forward. This project will serve as a vital hub for rail and transit and connect the entire region,” said Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. “I’m confident that the Bureau will continue to be a great partner for Chicago and cities across the country to build seamless, modern transportation networks in the years ahead.”
“Union Station is a key transportation hub and vital economic driver for the City of Chicago and region. Yet, for too long the station has been operating at or near capacity, threatening its ability to sustain ridership and economic growth,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said. “The Emerging Project Agreement announced today moves us closer to a 21st century Union Station – one with an improved passenger experience and less congestion. I’m pleased to see Chicago, Amtrak, and Metra working together to ensure this project succeeds, and I will continue to provide federal support for improvements that will impact commuters and visitors for decades to come.”
“Union Station’s master plan and surrounding commercial development will play a critical role in increasing capacity, efficiency, and accessibility, while reinforcing Chicago’s place as an important regional and national crossroads,” said Rep. Quigley, who serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development. “I applaud today’s announcement that confirms the Department of Transportation’s commitment to the rehabilitation of Union Station, and I look forward to working in Congress to ensure DOT has the resources it needs to properly assist in the planning of the Redevelopment project, which will spur increased economic activity in the region.”
“This is another milestone in all of our efforts to improve Union Station to make it a world-class transportation facility for a world-class city,” said Ray Lang, Amtrak Senior Director, National State Relations. “All of this is happening because all of us are working together as partners.”
The EmPA allows USDOT to offer enhanced technical assistance on complex, large scale projects seeking low-cost federal credit through the Build America Bureau’s innovative programs, including TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) Program and RRIF (Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing). TIFIA has provided more than $26 billion in credit assistance around the country, including loans for the CTA and Chicago’s acclaimed Riverwalk; RRIF has provided $5 billion in loans for projects around the country.
The EmPA announcement comes as the City and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) are working with Amtrak, Metra, the RTA and the Illinois Department of Transportation on the design of near term improvements that will upgrade passenger capacity by renovating and expanding the concourse and platforms. Also addressed In the Master Plan process are service, safety/environmental, accessibility and mobility issues around the station.
Amtrak is also in the final stages of evaluating Master Developer proposals to lead the redevelopment of Union Station and surrounding Amtrak-owned property and air rights.