CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, along with representatives from Amtrak, the City of Chicago, Metra and the Regional Transportation Authority, today announced plans to significantly improve Chicago’s Union Station. Senator Kirk continues to push for federal funding through the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program (RRIF), a $35 billion loan program created in 1998 to encourage rail infrastructure invesments across the country.
“The economic potential of Union Station can be realized under the Mayor’s development plan,” Senator Kirk said. “I have contacted the Secretary of Transportation to make sure the city can access an under-utilized loan program to enable further expansion.”
“Union Station provides an essential link to jobs and economic opportunities for Chicagoans. Modernizing the station is a positive development for residents, travelers, and businesses across the city,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This is another step forward in building a 21st century infrastructure to power Chicago’s growing economy, and an opportunity to strengthen the investments we’ve made in the West Loop and surrounding neighborhoods.”
“Chicago Union Station is an enormous asset to Amtrak as well as the City of Chicago,” said Stephen Gardner, Amtrak Executive Vice President/Chief of Business Development. “Amtrak is committed to working in partnership with our stakeholders to launch strategies and make investments that deliver value for the company and help realize the full vision a vibrant transportation hub interwoven within an integrated mixed-use urban district.”
Earlier this month, Senator Kirk along with Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Robert Casey (D-Penn.) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Anthony Fox highlighting the reforms Senator Kirk prioritized in the Senate passed DRIVE Act to further clarify that the RRIF program is intended by Congress to be used for projects such as the expansion of Chicago’s Union Station and the redevelopment of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. The USDOT has utilized less than five percent of its $35 billion authorization. Utilizing these funds in Chicago would not only help modernize Union Station but would also create jobs for Illinois residents.
Illinois is centered at our nation’s crossroads, with 6,986 miles of railroad, 1,100 miles of navigable waterway, 17 major airports and 144,337 miles of public road. Increasing infrastructure investments in Illinois is essential to both the Illinois and U.S. economy.