The nation's largest railroad moved to help relieve a
nagging rail bottleneck in Chicago, promising to centralize signals in Iowa and
improve rail yards in Chicago.
But the extensive--and expensive--plan by
Omaha-based Union Pacific Railroad to upgrade its system might derail further
rail traffic diversions around Chicago only temporarily.
executives said Monday that without congressional approval of a federal
transportation program to fund a $1.5 billion upgrade of the Chicago freight
system endorsed by Mayor Daley and state officials, more railroads are likely to
bypass Chicago altogether.
"We have no idea what will happen with the
transportation bill," said Union Pacific Chairman and Chief Executive Dick
Such diversions could deal crippling blows to Chicago's huge
shipping industry, threatening an undetermined number of jobs and companies
along the way.
"Right now you can get almost no additional traffic
through the system, so people have to do something," said John
Gates, co-chairman of CenterPoint Properties Trust and former chairman
of the Metropolitan Planning Commission, which has studied the
area's freight system.