The Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program partners yesterday joined community leaders from Chicago neighborhoods to announce educational programs for students and residents as part of the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project.
The CREATE partners agreed to support educational programs in the Ashburn, Auburn Gresham, Englewood and West Chatham neighborhoods to encourage students’ interest and foster learning in transportation, engineering and technical fields throughout the design and construction of the project, which is anticipated to last through 2024.
The 75th Street Corridor improvement is the most complex project in the CREATE program. Located on Chicago’s southwest side, the project involves rail and roadway improvements along two passenger and four freight lines.
Starting with the current school year, professionals working on the 75th Street Corridor project will share career insights and technical information with local students, as well as host field trips and expose high school students to the engineering challenges and skills required for large transportation infrastructure projects.
“The future of Chicago’s economy will not only be built on the foundation of our transportation infrastructure, but also by the young men and women we prepare to run and operate it,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a press release.
As part of the CREATE partners’ investment in the neighborhood, Norfolk Southern Railway has donated $40,000 to Chicago Public Library Foundation for the CyberNavigator and Teacher in the Library programs at Kelly Branch Library and Thurgood Marshall Branch Library, respectively.
“Developing new digital literacy skills for adults through these programs, we hope to harness the full potential of future railroad employees,” said Herbert Smith, NS’ executive director, government relations.
Collectively, the CREATE partners also will donate $200,000 to enhance existing educational programs Chicagoans can access for free at parks and libraries in the neighborhoods around the project.
Estimated to cost $4.4 billion, the CREATE program involves 70 rail and road improvement projects in the Chicagoland area. A public-private partnership among more than a dozen railroads and government agencies is pursuing the projects, which range from new tracks to grade separations to highway bridges to signal upgrades.
The partners include the Association of American Railroads, Illinois and Chicago departments of transportation, Cook County, Amtrak, Metra, BNSF Railway Co., Canadian Pacific, CN, CSX, NS, Union Pacific Railroad, Belt Railway Co. of Chicago and Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co.