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Lightfoot Urges Feds To Fund Amtrak’s Proposed $850 Million Revamp Of Union Station, Local Train Services

The proposed Chicago Hub Improvement Program would establish new passenger train routes into Union Station from the south and allow Amtrak and Metra trains to run more often. More than 50 other midwestern mayors support the plan.

The proposed project would use federal funds to improve passenger flow and ventilation at Union Station, among other initiatives.
Amtrak
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DOWNTOWN — Mayor Lori Lightfoot is among 56 regional mayors pushing the federal government to support Amtrak’s proposal for an $850 million revamp of Chicago’s transit system.

The proposed Chicago Hub Improvement Program would upgrade Union Station to improve passenger flow and ventilation, establish new passenger train routes into Union Station from the south and allow Amtrak and Metra trains to run more often, according to a press release from the Mayor’s Office. 

The Amtrak proposal would lay the groundwork for future improvements, including direct access to intercity trains from O’Hare International Airport and McCormick Place, according to the press release.

Alongside modernizing the city’s train services, Lightfoot said the project would reduce Chicago’s carbon footprint.

“It will also lay the foundation for a more equitable transportation network, giving Illinois residents from all walks of life access to the amenities and opportunities found in our great city and region,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

The project would be part of the Department of Transportation’s newly announced, $5 billion Mega Grant program, slated to provide federal funding for large or complex infrastructure projects. Mayors from other Illinois cities as well as other midwestern states signed on to the letter, which was delivered to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Amit Bose of the Federal Railroad Administration. 

Rick Harnish, executive director of the High Speed Rail Alliance, said it’s “no surprise” that mayors in neighboring states have supported the initiative, since Chicago serves as a regional and national transportation hub.

“Our region has wonderful colleges, thriving towns and cities, innovative businesses, and great people,” Harnish said. “The missing link is a network of fast, safe, and affordable trains connecting them.”

The letter comes after state and industry leaders — including Lightfoot, U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner and Metra CEO Jim Lewinski — advocated for the project. A decision on the project is expected to be announced before the end of the year.

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