Railroad to tackle jams: Union Pacific plans signal, yard changes; more diversions possible - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Railroad to tackle jams: Union Pacific plans signal, yard changes; more diversions possible

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.

Union Pacific 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 Davidson.

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.



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