Region comes together to agree on priority projects for northeastern Illinois

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) creates a transformational opportunity to strengthen northeastern Illinois’ transportation system, which has a far-reaching impact on the economic strength and resiliency of Illinois, the Midwest, and the nation.

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning worked with partners and stakeholders throughout northeastern Illinois to prioritize and achieve consensus around sustainable solutions to our region’s transportation challenges. The highest priority projects for the region now are reflected in an IIJA booklet for partners, transportation professionals, and the public.

These projects align with the core principles that guide IIJA and our region — inclusive growth, resilience, and prioritized investment. The list addresses transportation needs throughout the region, including improvements that can enhance the region’s transit system, improve freight movement, and strengthen options for vulnerable users like bicyclists and pedestrians.

And the region already has seen progress on its priority projects. Regional partners, including Metra, successfully applied for Mega grant funding to enhance and rebuild Metra’s Union Pacific North line, from Fullerton Avenue to Addison Street in Chicago.

The $117 million in Mega funding will help replace approximately 11 bridges, four miles of track structure, and nearly two miles of retaining walls along the line. Metra estimates that the project will make the line safer and more efficient, reducing passenger delay by 38 million hours over the next 30 years.

A car waiting at a rail road crossing as a train crosses.

The infrastructure law’s Mega grant program funds large and significant projects that can deliver the most benefits for a region. Partners throughout northeastern Illinois also had applied for Mega funding to modernize Union Station in Chicago and transform a portion of I-290 into a multimodal corridor.

A regional priority project to rehabilitate four bridges that cross over the Calumet River in Chicago also has received a $144 million grant funded through the infrastructure law’s Bridge Investment Program. The project will create more reliable and safer connections for the many residents, vehicles, and ships that rely on the bridges each day.

Our priority investments can help achieve the nation’s transportation goals and advance projects that can ease congestion and create livable communities and resilient infrastructure. With support from IIJA, we are ready to rebuild and reimagine our infrastructure so that it is equitable, accessible, and safer for our nearly 8.6 million residents.