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  • Monday, March 20, 2017 9:43 AM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)

    *Mar 16th, 2017 05:05 pm*

    By Jeramey Jannene 

    The first shipments of steel that will form the actual track for the
    Milwaukee Streetcar have arrived.

    The segments, 52 rails delivered via flat-bed truck from Indiana, are being
    stored in the curb lane near the Wisconsin Department of Transportation
    <http://urbanmilwaukee.com/government/wisconsin-department-of-transportation>
    office at 1001 W. St. Paul Ave.

    Ultimately the city will accept delivery of 474 80-foot long, 3,067 pound
    segments that will be stored at five spots in the curb lane on city
    streets.

    Those steel rails will then be welded together into 320-foot long spans by
    a nationally-traveling team that specializes in electric flash butt welding
    <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_welding>.

    The steel is expected to be fully delivered by the end of the month.

    The first construction of the guideway system is planned for April on a
    stretch of W. St. Paul Ave. from the Milwaukee Intermodal Station
    <http://urbanmilwaukee.com/buildings/milwaukee-intermodal-station> to N.
    Plankinton Ave.

    Construction work will involve cutting an 8-foot wide and 2-foot deep
    segment of the street out and installing the steel rails and new concrete.

    On streets like W. St. Paul Ave. where the streetcar will operate in both
    directions two cuts will be made, while N. Milwaukee St. and N. Broadway
    will only see one cut because the streetcar will only operate in one
    direction.

    Construction on the streetcar system is being led by Kiewet Infrastructure.

    Utility work in advance of the actual streetcar guideway construction is
    already well underway, with crews hired by We Energies
    <http://urbanmilwaukee.com/businesses/we-energies> and other utilities
    working at a number of spots along the route.

    Public operation on the initial route connecting the Milwaukee Intermodal
    Station and Westown <http://urbanmilwaukee.com/neighborhoods/westown> with
    the Historic Third Ward
    <http://urbanmilwaukee.com/neighborhoods/historic-third-ward>, East Town
    <http://urbanmilwaukee.com/neighborhoods/east-town> and the Lower East Side
    <http://urbanmilwaukee.com/neighborhoods/lower-east-side> is scheduled to
    begin in the fourth quarter of 2018 following route testing.

    The lakefront line extension is expected to begin operating in the fourth
    quarter of 2019.

    For more information on the project’s construction timeline and details see
    our February article “Streetcar Construction Starts in April
    <http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2017/02/17/eyes-on-milwaukee-streetcar-track-construction-starts-in-april/

  • Thursday, March 16, 2017 2:14 PM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)

    Construction is expected to begin this week on a Chinese state-owned rail company's assembly plant that will produce up to 846 new rail cars for the Chicago Transit Authority.

    The project will return CTA rail car manufacturing to Chicago after a 50-year absence, according to the city. CRRC Sifang's American subsidiary, CRRC Sifang North America, won the $1.3 billion contract last year to build the new 7000 Series over 10 years. The cars will have a combination of forward- and rear-facing seats as well as single seats and some facing the aisle.

    CRRC Sifang will invest $100 million in building a 380,944-square-foot manufacturing facility on 45 acres in Chicago's Hegewisch neighborhood on the Southeast Side.

    Production will begin in early 2019. The facility will begin testing the new car prototype later that year and the cars will hit the rails by 2020.

    The facility will employ about 170 workers, according to a statement from CCRC. The company will spend $7.2 million to train the workforce, according to a statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office.

    The Chicago assembly plant is part of the company's larger plan to "become internationalized," said Li Yongle, vice president of CRRC Qingdao Sifang, under the CRRC corporate umbrella.

    "We recognize the United States as an important and strategic market for the Sifang," he said through an interpreter. "It will support other project plans in the U.S., including projects for metro cars and high-speed trains."

    The company already has a contract to build rail cars for Boston's transit system and aims to use the new Chicago plant if it wins bids to manufacture rail cars for San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit system, known as BART, and a double-decker coach car project for Metra, Li said.

    The company plans to assemble "major components" of the cars at the plant, including the trucks, doors, the heating and cooling system, brakes, stainless steel car body shell and a new propulsion system designed for a smoother, quieter ride. Assembly parts will be sourced from the U.S., China and other areas, according to Li.

    The CTA's first order of 400 new cars will replace its oldest rail cars, which date back more than 30 years. Once the new cars are in service, the CTA will have one of the youngest fleets of any U.S. transit agency, according to the CTA.

    The Chinese company's $1.309 billion bid came in $226 million lower than one submitted by Canadian-based Bombardier, which appealed the CTA's decision to pick the Chinese firm. The decision was upheld last year after being reviewed by the CTA. 

    "This new facility represents a major investment in Chicago that will bring economic development to the Southeast Side, while creating good-paying jobs for hundreds of workers," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a news release.

    The new rail cars will have LED lighting and 37 or 38 seats each and be a hybrid of the previous 5000 Series and the 3200 Series currently seen on the Brown and Orange lines. Both federal and local funds will pay for the project, with the local money coming from a previous bond issue.

    Li said his company still is negotiating possible tax incentives for building the facility in Chicago. A spokesman from the mayor's office said there are no city incentives but the company could be eligible for a county property tax credit. crshropshire@chicagotribune.com


  • Friday, March 03, 2017 11:17 AM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)

    The $280 million 95th Street terminal project is expected to be completed in late 2018. (Nancy Stone / Chicago Tribune)

    Mary Wisniewski Mary Wisniewski Contact ReporterChicago Tribune

    The CTA plans to reroute some weekday rush-hour Red Line "L" trains onto the Green Line starting next month to allow for more construction at the 95th Street station.

    The next construction phase will include work on the tracks, the existing station platform and the foundations of the new north and south terminal buildings, CTA spokesman Jeff Tolman said. To do the work, the CTA will have to close the east and west sides of the tracks at 95th, at separate times.

    What does this mean for South Side commuters? The work will affect off-peak trains during the morning and afternoon weekday rush hours, so riders will have to make sure they get on the right train.

    From 7:56 a.m. to 9:14 a.m., every other southbound Red Line train starting at Howard Street will be rerouted after the Roosevelt station to the Ashland/63rd Green Line stop, the CTA said.

    From 4:40 p.m. to 5:58 p.m., every other Howard-bound train entering the Loop from south of Roosevelt will start at the Ashland/63rd Green Line station.

    Depending on riders' location, some customers going in the off-peak direction may have to wait a few extra minutes, Tolman said.

    The rerouting, which will affect about 10 percent of all Red Line trains, begins April 2 and will continue until fall.

    All trains will be marked with destination signs, showing Ashland/63rd, 95th/Dan Ryan or Howard, and announcements will be made at stations, CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said.

    CTA to get $1.1 billion federal grant to upgrade Red Line

    CTA to get $1.1 billion federal grant to upgrade Red Line

    "This was necessary so we can do two things — maintain Red Line service and keep 95th Street open," Chase said.

    Motorists on the Dan Ryan Expressway also will see the extended closure of the northbound left lane near 95th Street beginning as soon as March 18, depending on the weather, and continuing into the fall. The lane also was closed last fall.

    The $280 million 95th Street terminal project, expected to be completed in late 2018, involves completely rebuilding the Red Line South's busiest station, which sees 20,000 passengers and 1,000 bus trips a day. The station is the southernmost stop on the Red Line — the agency plans to extend the line south to 130th Street, but has not yet acquired the funding.

  • Monday, January 23, 2017 12:00 PM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)

    Kiewit Infrastructure, the firm that will build the MILWAUKEE modern
    streetcar line in Wisconsin's largest city, will be hiring workers for
    track installation that will start in the coming months, the "urban
    milwaukee dot com" site reports. Utility relocation already is underway.
    The city is buying dual-mode Brookville Equipment "Liberty" model
    streetcars for the project -- the same type operating at Dallas-Oak Cliff,
    being delivered to Detroit Q Line and ordered by Oklahoma City. Milwaukee
    expects delivery of its first Brookville streetcar in December 2017. Five
    will be acquired: four for the starter line and one for the wire-free
    Lakefront extension to a planned high rise development. The next phase
    would be a 4th Street extension north to a planned sports arena. The
    Milwaukee Bucks NBA professional basketball team plans the arena as part of
    an entertainment complex. 

  • Wednesday, December 14, 2016 2:18 PM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)

    Progress continues on the Electroliner restoration project.  This is a very large, complex multi year project that began in 2013.  In the past three and one half years, hundreds of individuals (including a significant number of NEW IRM members) have donated over $850,000 and a small crew of dedicated workers have worked weekly on interior restoration (more hands are needed - if interested, contact Ed Oslowski at (773) 710-3226.)  

    The motors are at a contractor and a number have been rebuilt/repaired and returned to Union.  Four new wheels have been fabricated, the others have been turned to the original NSL profile, and the trucks are nearing complete tear down and restoration (with some new parts) at Avalon Car Company in Milwaukee.  Reupholstering of seats is ongoing.  These projects have been very expensive and taken much of the money that has been donated.

    Major projects remain, especially restoring the air conditioning system.  We have several members with expertise in HVAC who we hope will help with this project.  

    Our estimated need to complete the restoration of the Electroliner, hopefully to operational condition by the end of 2017 and full restoration by the end of 2020, is $1.2 million.  That is a very ambitious goal!  We have applied for and received a number of grants and more requests are being planned for the next few months.  We have also received several extremely generous donations and bequeaths, which were unexpected but allowed us to begin the "heavy" work described above.  

    In order to continue our work, especially on the air conditioning, we need to keep money coming in.  As we approach the end of the year we ask that you consider a special donation to the Electroliner fund by the end of December.  We will continue to report on our progress - look for at least one story and pictures in one of the upcoming RAIL & WIRE issues in 2017!  

    Donations can be made with a credit card by visiting www.irm.org and going to the “Museum Store”  (look under “Bestsellers” “$25 NSL . . .” or by sending a check (IRM Electroliner Fund) or your credit card information to:  IRM, PO Box 427, Union IL 60180.  You can also call during normal business hours (815) 923 4391 #2.


  • Thursday, October 27, 2016 10:03 AM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)

    Historic Michigan Avenue Sign to Light Up Again at the Illinois Railway Museum in McHenry County

    Union, IL - A giant piece of Chicago history is coming back to life at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, McHenry County. On October 29, 2016 at 5:00pm the 70-foot long illuminated SANTA FE sign which for decades sat atop the Railway Exchange Building at 224 South Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago will be re-lit following an extensive restoration effort. The sign was acquired by the museum in 2012, when it was removed from the building and donated by the building's owners, Hamilton Partners. Restoration of the sign, which was constructed in 1982 to replace an earlier 1962 version, took place in 2016 courtesy of a grant from the BNSF Foundation.

    Restoration of the enormous sign was conducted by MK Signs Chicago. "Over 260 man-hours went into this project," said Dave Diamond, head of the museum's Buildings & Grounds Department. "The work included cleaning and repairing polycarbonate surfaces, wiring replacement, and installation of over 1400 energy-efficient LED modules to illuminate the letters." Steel supports were installed near the museum entrance, where the SANTA FE letters will be easily visible from passing cars. The sign joins other restored railroad signs at the museum including examples from the North Shore Line, South Shore Line, Illinois Central Railroad, and Chicago Transit Authority.


  • Tuesday, October 25, 2016 4:50 PM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)

    Alan Berner On Oct 25, 2016 

    Source: McClatchy

    CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

    | Share | Share | Share | Share

    Oct. 25--The George Benson Waterfront Streetcars will clang, clang, clang again after more than a decade in storage -- but not in Seattle.

    This Northwest Wanderings took me to St. Louis, Mo., the city I grew up in, and to The Loop, the neighborhood where I lived.

    That city bought three of the vintage cars for $200,000 and will run them on a 2.2-mile route, mainly in The Loop area along Delmar Boulevard. The Loop is named after the turnaround point for streetcars that stopped running there in 1966.

    In a window display, the old Seattle waterfront trolleys are seen running in the Loop area in St. Louis. The tracks are laid and the actual trolleys will begin running in early 2017. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

    Getting streetcars along the Seattle waterfront was the signature accomplishment of the late Councilmember George Benson.

    He traveled to Melbourne, Australia, and secured five streetcars that date to the 1920s. The waterfront line stopped service in 2005, one year after Benson died. Two cars remain in storage here.

    The interiors of the vintage cars feature Tasmanian mahogany, white ash and brass hardware.

    Native St. Louisan Joe Edwards has driven their streetcar project and the revitalization of The Loop.

    He says it's been designated one of the 10 great streets by the American Planning Association.

    "It's racially diverse, economically diverse and age diverse," says Edwards.

    Just as Seattle's hometown rock 'n' roll legend Jimi Hendrix has a statue on Capitol Hill, The Loop has local, living legend Chuck Berry about to go into his famous duckwalk, while playing guitar, depicted in an 8-foot statue.

    "He's just kicking it up," says Edwards, along the Walk of Fame on the sidewalk in The Loop, a series of brass stars and bronze plaques celebrating those from that city or creatively formed by that city.

    Down the center of the street, the tracks are laid and overhead wires are being strung.

    Edwards says, "People trust the fixed track. It's clean electric transit, the prototype of how to connect one neighborhood to another.

    "We've very grateful to Seattle, salute Seattle. Here, they have a good home and we respect that type of transit in a good way."

    The cars are on track to begin testing next month and carrying passengers next year.

    Alan Berner: 206-464-8133 or aberner@seattletimes.com

    Copyright 2016 - The Seattle Times


  • Tuesday, October 04, 2016 9:23 AM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)

    Andrew Steele On Oct 3, 2016 

    Source: McClatchy

    CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

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    Oct. 03--Operators of the South Shore Line will give the public a look at a project they say would slash commute times to Chicago at three workshops this week.

    The project would add a second track to the commuter railroad and upgrade five stations between Gary and Michigan City in an effort to speed the trip to Chicago. The estimated cost of the project, dubbed Double Track NWI, is $210 million.

    According to estimates included in a new Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority strategic plan, almost half an hour would be sliced off the ride from Michigan City, with total trip time dropping to an hour and 11 minutes compared to the current hour and 39 minutes. The ride from Miller would be cut by 18 minutes, with total trip time dropping to 49 minutes from the current hour and seven minutes.

    The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District received the go-ahead from the Federal Transit Administration earlier this year to begin planning the project. It has hired the engineering firm HDR to do the initial environmental and engineering work for $4 million.

    "We are well underway in conducting the significant engineering and environmental work required by the federal process," NICTD President Michael Noland told the railroad's board of trustees at its September meeting.

    'A real urgency'

    NICTD is meeting with a variety of agencies and companies to discuss Double Track NWI's impact, including NIPSCO, the National Park Service, the Indiana Department of Transportation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    The railroad is also in discussions with South Shore Freight Railroad, which shares tracks with the commuter railroad, concerning two potential bottlenecks, Noland said. One is in west Gary and the other in the area of ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor steel mill and the Bailly Generating Station.

    The Miller neighborhood in Gary and Michigan City would see the most noticeable evidence of the project.

    In Miller, the plan requires the realignment of U.S. 12 "so we can keep our station in Gary right near Lake Street," Noland said. The point where U.S. 12 merges with U.S. 20 would be moved east, and a stretch of U.S. 12 between Clay Street and the South Howard Street area eliminated.

    The work will allow a smoother track alignment, a full, high-level platform and new parking garage at the station.

    In Michigan City, where tracks have run down the middle of streets for more than a century, NICTD is discussing new track and station layouts with city officials, Noland said. The mid-street tracks would be replaced by roadside tracks.

    The initial environmental and engineering work needs to be done in less than a year, to keep the project on track for construction in 2019 and 2020.

    Submitting the project to the federal government in August would make it eligible for inclusion in the federal budget the next fiscal year.

    "There is a real urgency getting into the federal pipeline," Noland said. "It's a competitive process. We're well served by getting this to the FTA in August."

    Federal funding would cover half the project cost, leaving the other half to state and local sources. NICTD officials hope to have the state and local sources determined by next summer.

    "We've been gaining significant traction" in earning support from state officials, Noland said.

    The railroad is establishing a website for information about the project, set to be available after Tuesday, at www.DoubleTrackNWI.com.


  • Tuesday, September 27, 2016 10:04 PM | CERA Board of Directors

    See Sean Ryan's Full Real Estate Inc. article

    Train manufacturer Talgo Inc. will return to Milwaukee’s Century City Business Park to refurbish trains under a $73 million contract with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority.

    It marks a return for the Spanish train manufacturer, which left Milwaukee in spring 2014 after a lengthy battle with state officials over canceled contracts to manufacture and maintain trains. Talgo will move back into the building it formerly leased from the city of Milwaukee in the Century City Business Park.


  • Monday, August 29, 2016 10:18 AM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)

    Metra recently received the final two cars of its 160-car order for the Metra Electric Line, completing a 2010 purchase to outfit the line with a completely new and modern fleet.

    The new cars use the latest technology and have a variety of new features, including larger windows, better seats with reversible seatbacks, brighter lighting, non-skid floors and an improved public address system. They also have power outlets for customer use. Most notably, half of the new Highliner cars have bathrooms, meaning that every train on the Metra Electric line will have at least one bathroom – a first for the line.

    “Modernizing the Electric District’s fleet has been a priority for Metra for more than a decade,” said Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “With the delivery of the final cars, we are celebrating the completion of a major investment that has enabled us to provide our customers with more comfortable and reliable service.”

    Since 1984, Metra has invested $1.6 billion in the Metra Electric – the most of any of Metra’s lines in the agency’s six-county service area.

    The push to replace the original 40-plus-year-old Highliners with a more modern fleet began with an order for 26 stainless steel Highliner cars in 2004. The cars, delivered to Metra in 2006, were purchased with $76 million in funding provided through the state’s Illinois FIRST bond program. Another state bond program allowed Metra to move forward with the purchase of 160 more Highliners in 2010 when the Metra Board approved $585 million contract with Sumitomo Corp. of America/Nippon Sharyo.

    The order from Metra spurred Nippon Sharyo to invest $35 million to build a new railcar factory in Rochelle, Ill., that employs hundreds of people while Illinois added a $12 million business investment package to support the new facility.

    Highliners are electric, self-propelled cars unique to the Metra Electric Line. The new cars are propelled by alternating current (AC), which supplies more power and requires less maintenance that the direct current (DC) propulsion used by the original Highliners.

    Although the Metra Electric Line cars cannot be used on the diesel lines, Metra has designed these cars so that, where possible, they share parts with those used on diesel bi-level cars.

    The old Highliner fleet dated from the 1970s – before Metra was created – and the last six cars carried their final passengers from Chicago to University Park on Feb. 12, 2016. Twenty-four of the original Highliner cars have been sent to museums, including Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Ill.; Union Depot Railroad Museum in Mendota, Ill.; Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad/James H. Andrew Museum in Boone, Iowa; and the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

     


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