CHICAGO – March 7, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn was joined today by southeast suburban officials to sign House Bill 1644, which establishes the Southeast Commuter Rail Transit District. The new district will give local officials the tools they need to help build the SouthEast Service Line, a proposed Metra line connecting nearly 20 communities with downtown Chicago.
“Accessible commuter rail is an essential component of our transportation system,” said Governor Quinn. “The SouthEast Service Line will provide access to an underserved area while creating jobs, sparking economic development and improving the quality of life in the southeast suburbs.”
The planned SouthEast Service Line will link the 33 miles between Crete’s Balmoral Park and downtown Chicago’s LaSalle Street Station, with additional stops in Crete, Steger, South Chicago Heights, Chicago Heights, Glenwood, Thornton, South Holland, Dolton, and at 115th Street, Gresham and 35th Street stations on Chicago’s South Side. The project will cost an estimated $778 million and will open up service to one of the last regions of the metropolitan area without access to Metra.
The new line will provide greater access to jobs, reduce highway congestion and enable towns and neighborhoods along the route to pursue transit-oriented developments. Among the anticipated locations served will be St. James Hospital and Health Centers in Chicago Heights, the Ford Motor Co. plant on the South Side, U.S. Cellular Field and Chicago’s Loop.
The project was authorized in the 2005 federal transportation bill. Metra completed the last of the in-depth studies of the line in 2010. A final proposal is expected to be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration later this year.
“The Southeast Commuter Rail Transit District will bring commuter rail to an area with few transportation options,” said Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. “By creating this district, we are reaffirming our commitment to the SouthEast Service Line and giving communities a greater voice in the planning process.”
The Southeast Commuter Rail Transit District can apply for public and private funds, acquire property for stations and enter into public-private partnerships to build and maintain the line and its facilities. All district activities will be overseen by a board composed of member communities. The Southeast Commuter Rail Transit District includes Crete, Steger, South Chicago Heights, Chicago Heights, Glenwood, Thornton, South Holland, Dolton, Calumet City, Lansing and Lynwood. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Al Riley (D-Hazel Crest) and Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields).