Happening Now

Hotline #1,058

March 16, 2018

Trump Cabinet Testifies on Infrastructure Plan; New Hudson Tunnel Funding Still Under Debate; 3.6% of TIGER Grants Awarded to Public Transit; CAHSR Released New Plan

We Need Your ‘Nose For News’! When you see rail-related news stories, op-eds, editorials, or letters to the editor in your communities, send them along to us! We include them in our social media efforts, along with the weekly Hotline. Send your news items to Bob Brady, [email protected], and we will share it with members. Are you holding a rally, a community meeting, or another kind of rail-advocacy event? We can help spread the word if you send them to us. We can put them on the website, here. Please follow Rail Passengers Association on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all things passenger rail.

Members of the White House Administration appeared before the Senate to promote the President’s infrastructure initiative this week. Members of Trump’s Cabinet testified, including: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, as well as Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

During the hearing, Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) said he expects some version of an infrastructure plan to move forward this year, although a source of funding for the $200 billion in federal support has not been identified by the White House or Committee members.

“Finding a funding source is only one of the problems with the White House’s proposed initiative for rebuilding the country’s infrastructure,” said Rail Passengers President Jim Mathews. “The other problem with the current White House proposal is the fact that the Administration wants to cut Amtrak funding, as well as TIGER grants. It’s just not possible to build a strong U.S. infrastructure while cutting support.”

In a meeting between House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., W.I.) and Congressional Republicans from New York and New Jersey, Ryan reinforced that President Trump will veto a new omnibus spending bill if it includes $900 million in grant funding for a new Hudson River rail tunnel. The Administration has said several times over the past months that New York and New Jersey need to fund the new tunnel, which is a major component of the $30-billion Gateway Program.

The meeting revealed that Ryan does not take issue with the project.

“I hope and expect that this will be in the bill and that the bill will be signed into law,” said Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.).

Complicating matters is the fact that the $900 million is not technically going to the Hudson River rail tunnels, but merely towards a grant program that the project is eligible to apply for.

“You can’t take money for Gateway out” of the omnibus spending bill, said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), who chairs the House Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee. “There’s no money for Gateway in. You’d have to take out entire pots of money.”

In addition, Northeastern Republicans met with the President to explain that the new $12.7 billion rail tunnel is vital to the economic success of the Northeast Corridor, as well as the entire country. The current tunnels are more than 100 years old and were severely damaged following Superstorm Sandy. New York and New Jersey previously committed $1.75 billion and $1.9 billion, respectively.

“He listened to everything I had to say and he fully understands our position,” said Rep. Peter King (R-NY) after a meeting with President Trump. “I really can’t say right now.”

“Allowing the current Hudson tunnel to fail, or to not support the development of a new tunnel, will have unimaginable consequences for the entire country,” said Rail Passengers Association President Jim Mathews. “If funding for the grant program doesn’t develop, we are looking at pushing 200,000 commuters from the tunnel to the roads and other public transit, and halting not only travel in the Northeast Corridor, but businesses, jobs and economic activity.”

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R., N.J.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, is leading the charge on including the $900 million in grant funding in the new bill. The current bill expires on March 24. Rep. Lance requested the meeting with Ryan, and Reps. King, Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) and John Faso (R-N.Y.) also participated.

If the rail grant funds are excluded from the spending bill, some of these Republicans said they may vote against it.

Take Action Now!

Rail Passengers Association is asking its members to take action immediately to ensure that the White House’s infrastructure proposal does not move forward with cuts to critical passenger rail services. Rail Passengers Association has set up an online tool to permit riders and members alike to let the White House know directly that they disagree with these proposed cuts.

Visit www.railpassengers.org/whitehousebudget to take action NOW!

Nearly $500 million in federal grant funding was awarded to 41 recipients for maintaining, repairing and building transportation infrastructure in the U.S. The grants were announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and were provided through the the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.

However, under the Trump Administration the U.S. DOT focused almost entirely on roads and bridges, with passenger rail receving only $20 million for a Mid-Atlantic multimodal transportation hub in Baltimore County, MD and $16 million for the Southwest Chief Route stabilization project in Colfax County, NM.

Transit was the other big loser in this round of TIGER grants, with only 3.6 percent going towards public transit projects.

"This represents a significant decrease in public transit TIGER grants,” said American Public Transit Association President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Skoutelas. “While we appreciate the fact that two of the 41 FY 2017 TIGER awards will go to public transit projects in Georgia and Wisconsin, APTA notes that more than 20 percent of funding awards during the previous three fiscal years went to public transportation.”

“The TIGER program is an important source of funding for projects across many transportation modes that increase mobility and support jobs in the national economy,” Skoutelas said. “Typically, a much greater share of TIGER awards has been awarded to public transit project sponsors, recognizing the critical impact these projects have for reducing congestion, improving safety, environmental sustainability, and economic competitiveness.”

Over the past few months, we have witnessed several Amtrak accidents ranging from a major derailment in Washington to accidents with cars. These accidents, mostly unrelated, have raised questions and concerns about the safety of passenger rail in the U.S., as well as appropriate levels of funding to support the national infrastructure.

To address these concerns, Bloomberg provided answers to several questions on how Amtrak got into the position it is now. Bloomberg explains Amtrak’s creation and structure, what has caused the recent accidents, its funding and revenue, and more.

To read the answers in full, please visit Bloomberg online.

Make Plans NOW To Attend Rail Passengers Association’s Spring 2018 Advocacy Summit and ‘Day on The Hill’: Annual Congressional Reception and Meeting - Sunday, April 15 to Wednesday, April 18, 2018

  • Monday’s sessions will include presentations by Amtrak on PTC implementation and fleet strategy and from FRA on the ongoing Southeast & Midwest planning studies.

  • Rail Passengers Association’s ‘Day on The Hill’ is Tuesday, April 17. The Annual Rail Passengers Association Congressional Reception will be held that evening from 5:30pm - 7:30pm in the Capitol Visitors Center.

  • Wednesday’s Council Business Session will include the election of Board Officers & Directors and ‘At-Large’ Council representatives.

This is THE opportunity of the year for rail passenger advocates to have their voices heard directly by the decision makers on Capitol Hill. With drastic cuts being proposed for Amtrak and grant programs such as TIGER, it is VITAL that rail advocates make this year’s Summit and ‘Day on The Hill’ the largest event ever. We need to flood ‘The Hill’ with our message that passenger rail matters! Please join in this effort.

  • Event registration is now available! Registration rates will increase April 1st; don’t delay, sign-up today!

  • The host hotel is the Hilton Old Town Alexandria, located adjacent to the King Street Metro & Alexandria Amtrak Stations. Discounted group-rate rooms are now SOLD-OUT! Regular market rate rooms are available at the Hilton and a list of other nearby hotels can be found on the Events Page.

In an effort to be more transparent with the development of high-speed rail in California, the state’s agency on the project released a new Draft 2018 Business Plan that puts the new cost of the project at $77.3 billion. California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHRSA) officials said the increase from $64 billion is due to projected higher costs for building the Central Valley segment, contingency funding and schedule adjustments.

“The Draft 2018 Business Plan presents a strategy to implement the nation’s first truly high-speed rail system in the face of challenges that projects around the world of similar magnitude and complexity have faced and successfully overcome,” said CHSRA CEO Brian Kelly. “The plan reflects our commitment to apply lessons learned and make organizational improvements necessary to deliver this project to initiate high-speed rail service between the Silicon Valley and the Central Valley as soon as possible, while completing environmental work and making important investments in Southern California.”

Despite the rise in cost, the new draft plan has received notable support from the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Caltrain.

BART Board President Robert Raburn said that the new business plan highlights CHSRA’s “efforts to provide connectivity between regional rail up and down the state. The project is vital to addressing our region’s acute transportation challenges in an environmentally responsible way.”

CHSRA’s new plan also includes new strategies to expand electrification of Caltrain's corridor in California, which Caltrain officials recognized in a statement.

“We are very excited about the extension of electrified rail service to Gilroy,” said Jeannie Bruins, Chair of the Caltrain Board of Directors and a Los Altos City Council Member. “Cities along the Caltrain line south of San Jose are growing rapidly and this will be a tremendous step toward providing them with the transportation infrastructure they need to accommodate that growth.”

The Houston-Galveston Area Council hosted its first of 12 public meetings this week to discuss its 2045 Regional Transportation Plan. The goal of the meetings is to share the process of developing transportation projects, as well as officials gaining valuable insight from community members in the region about their transit needs for highways, buses, passenger rail, and pedestrian walkways and trails.

Officials on the council update the 2045 plans every four years since the Houston-Galveston area is rapidly growing and the transit needs of the region are changing. It is expected that by 2045 the area’s population will boom from 6.7 million in 2017 to 10.8 million. Officials also estimate that employment will grow by 50 percent to 4.8 million jobs, and 8.8 million people will visit Houston-area streets, up from 5.5 million in 2017.

The first meeting was held in Brazoria County, with additional meetings in Fort Bend County, Harris County, Galveston County, Liberty County, Waller County and more.

For more information on the meetings, including dates and locations, please visit the Houston-Galveston Area Council website.

Is Your Mayor Onboard?

As Congress finishes last year's budget process and plans ahead for next year's spending, it's critical that local cities play an active part in the process.

Contact your Mayor today!

Just last year, we saw efforts in both Congress and the White House to kill Amtrak's National Network. With a concerted campaign of station rallies, calls, and meetings, passenger advocates were able to turn back these efforts, and secure additional funding for passenger rail in both the House and Senate. Now we need to move these bills across the finish line.

That's why Rail Passengers Association is asking you to write your local Mayor's office and recruit them in the campaign for better train service for all Americans!

Rail Passengers is providing you with materials to help make your argument. Joining our campaign is as easy as clicking a button, so take action today!

Passenger Resources:

Freight railroad CSX has put a portion of its tracks in Florida up for sale, and depending who purchases them, this could affect the future of the reintroduction of passenger rail in the Gulf Coast. The Southern Rail Commission (SRC), the Rail Passengers Association, and other groups have been working for several years to bring Amtrak service back to the coast after it was suspended in 2005, following Hurricane Katrina. CSX is interested in selling 300 miles of track between Jacksonville and Pensacola, which the Amtrak route would utilize if it were re-established.

SRC is well-aware of the potential sale, and is pushing regulators to consider the inclusion of passenger rail as an aspect of the sale. As a result, the sale of the tracks could help benefit rail passenger advocates since CSX has previously resisted allowing Amtrak to once again run on the tracks.

“There will be regulatory processes that govern the sale of this line,” said Knox Ross, the vice chairman SRC and former mayor of Pelahatchie, Mississippi. “We want to make sure that the regulators understand we want to bring the train back and that that be considered as part of any sale.”

CSX said that the sale is part of the company’s evaluation of, "every aspect of the company’s network and operations to be sure that all assets are maximized for efficiency and add value to our company’s long-term business need." CSX is also ready to cut 2,200 jobs by the end of this year and reduce the number of rail cars on its tracks by 20 percent by 2020.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is eligible to receive millions of dollars in funding from Virginia as long as D.C. and Maryland officials agree to contribute funding as well. The Virginia General Assembly agreed to provide $154 million a year in new funding, but only if D.C. and Maryland lawmakers make additional offers that would help provide $500 million in annual funding to WMATA. The funding would be considered permanent and it would offer a dedicated source of revenue for Metro, which it has never had.

“This is a pretty historic moment for WMATA and the Metro system,” said Rail Passengers President Jim Mathews. “This system has been running thin on true support for decades, and it has shown in recent years following a number of accidents and incidents. A dedicated source of funding could help revitalize Metro and attract riders back.”

In Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan previously supported a bill that passed the House and would provide $150 million a year in funding. Similarly, Governor Hogan said he would endorse the bill only if Virginia and D.C. each contributed the same amount. Officials in D.C. have said that they plan to support the Metro system, and will go along with the decisions made by Virginia and Maryland lawmakers.

“On behalf of all Metro customers and employees, as well as the communities whose economic well-being depends on a safe, reliable Metro system, we are truly grateful,” Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said following Virginia's decision.

Rail Passengers Association Remembers Louise Slaughter

New York Democrat Who Supported Passenger Rail Passes At 88

The Rail Passengers Association was saddened to learn that New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, a long-time supporter of U.S. passenger rail, died this morning from complications of an injury suffered last week. Rep. Slaughter and the Association have a long history together in advocating for Amtrak and other passenger rail services in the U.S. over the course of her 30 years in office.

“Congresswoman Slaughter was an ardent and vocal long-time supporter of passenger rail in Upstate New York and across the country" said Bruce Becker, Rail Passengers Association Vice-President of Operations and formerly President of the Empire State Passengers Association. "She was instrumental in advancing the construction of a new Amtrak passenger station for her hometown of Rochester. The beautiful new facility, which opened last fall, is a testament to her vision for a modern and passenger-focused rail network."

In 2011, Slaughter founded the 'Bi-Cameral High Speed and Intercity Rail Caucus' which brought together passenger rail advocates in both the House and Senate. She earned the Association's highest award, the Golden Spike, for her efforts and support of rail transit that year.

Slaughter’s office confirmed that the congresswoman suffered a fall last week, which resulted in a concussion and her hospitalization. Details on funeral arrangements will be provided by her office when they are available.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is seeking input from the public on the alternatives the federal agency will be advancing for further study in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Washington, D.C. Union Station Expansion Project. The goal of the project, proposed by Union Station Redevelopment Corporation and Amtrak, is to provide customers in Union Station a better experience, support rail service, sustain economic growth and more. FRA is now preparing an EIS to evaluate the potential impacts to the environment of the proposed project.

Interested parties can attend the Environmental Impact Statement Public Meeting on Thursday, March 22 from 4:00 to 8:00 PM in the Washington Union Station’s Presidential Room. Additional details on the project are available at: www.WUSstationexpansion.com.

$10,000 Sweepstakes for Education Continues Through April 26

Rail Passengers Association kicked-off a new sweepstakes in February for college students who can use assistance paying for higher education. Rail Passengers Association understands that paying for college is not easy, and this is why the Association is offering one lucky student a chance to win $10,000 for the 2018-2019 school year.

To be eligible to win the sweepstakes, students can nominate themselves, or a student can be nominated by someone else - a friend or a parent, for example. The only criteria is that the winning student must be enrolled in a U.S. accredited college or graduate program for the 2018-2019 school year.

For details on how to enter or nominate a student, as well as rules for the sweepstakes, please visit: www.crowdrise.com/rpascholarship. Nominations will close on April 26 at 11:59:59.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has assured NJ Transit riders that they will not face a fare hike thanks to a new state budget that provides an additional $242 million for the agency. The amount will nearly triple NJ Transit’s current budget, and it will be put towards supporting, maintaining and repairing light rail, rail, and bus operations, and help fill staffing gaps.

“Governor Murphy’s planned budget is a reassuring sign for NJ Transit passengers that the transit system will begin to receive funding that it has needed for years,” said Jim Mathews, President and CEO of the Rail Passengers Association.

The new budget is part of Governor Murphy’s budget plan for FY 2019, which includes appropriations totaling $37.4 billion and a projected surplus of $743 million. The budget also includes a focus on expanding education, increasing the minimum wage and tax fairness.

“This is a budget that is balanced both fiscally and morally,” Governor Murphy said in a press release. “Our constitution requires the former, but our conscience demands the latter. It is a budget that recognizes that we will not solve the problems facing our middle class, seniors, and working families with short-term fixes. It is a budget that puts New Jersey families ahead of the wealthy and special interests – and that recognizes that we cannot build a brighter future by acting timidly and thinking small.”

Overall, the additional funding represents a 172% increase over the last budget and is the largest State appropriation to NJ Transit in state history. This level of funding is more than four times the average annual subsidy during Governor Christie’s final term. Governor Murphy’s budget also allocates $2 billion to the state Transportation Capital Program to perform infrastructure repairs and improvements across New Jersey.

Sound Transit has selected South County Transit Partners to manage the 7.8-mile light-rail extension between Angle Lake to Federal Way, known as the Federal Way Link Extension. South County Transit Partners, a joint venture of Mott MacDonald and SNC-Lavalin, will oversee the management of the new extension, which will see the construction of three new stations on the route. Sound Transit officials estimate that the new line will draw in 36,500 riders per day.

"This contract builds on the many years of solid design, project management, and construction management services that Mott MacDonald has provided to Sound Transit," said Nick DeNichilo, President and CEO of Mott MacDonald in North America said in a press release. "We are pleased to be joining SNC-Lavalin in the latest phase of transit development in the Puget Sound region."

"We are very proud to be working with Sound Transit to deliver the Federal Way Link Extension for the citizens and communities of the Central Puget Sound region," said Ian L. Edwards, President, Infrastructure at SNC-Lavalin in a press release. "Our team is driven by a desire to shape the world we live in and improve people's lives through sustainable, quality infrastructure. At SNC-Lavalin, we draw on our ability to address projects of any size, scale or complexity by using innovative solutions such as the ones used on our recent work expanding Vancouver's SkyTrain system."

The new extension is expected to cost $1 billion and it will open in 2024.

Upcoming Regional Rail Passenger & State Association Member Meetings and Other Events:

  • Saturday, March 24 - Rail Passengers Association New England Regional Meeting - Boston, MA

    • This meeting will be followed by a “Beer & Transit” get-together with Transit Matters at the at Beacon Street Locale from 5-8pm.

  • Saturday, March 24 - Iowa Association of Railroad Passengers - Grinnell, IA

  • Saturday, April 14 - Delaware, Pennsylvania & New Jersey Rail Passengers Association Regional Meeting - Philadelphia, PA

Please contact Bruce Becker to have a local, state or regional event or meeting added to the Rail Passengers Association calendar of upcoming events!

Chicago-area Rep. Dan Lipinski, a proponent of rail safety, has received significant amounts of funding from the railroad industry according to Federal Election Commission reports. This information was highlighted by the investigative news outlet, The Intercept, in a special feature that, “nearly one out of every $6 Lipinski raised to accumulate a $1.2-million campaign war chest over the last decade came from rail company PACs.” This support from the industry is notable since Lipinski oversaw the successful effort to delay the 2015 deadline for Positive Train Control (PTC), which the American Association of Railroads (AAR) favored due to the cost of implementation.

To read the full story on Lipinski, please visit The Intercept online.

MARC commuter rail service will continue to run from Maryland to West Virginia following West Virginia Governor signing the Fiscal Year 2019 budget for the state. Under the new $4.38-billion budget, House Bill 4389 will allow the transfer of $1.5 million from the securities division in the state Auditor’s Office to the the West Virginia Commuter Rail Access Fund. West Virginia was under threat of losing MARC service after a previous agreement ran out and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said service would stop as early as this summer if a new deal was not reached.

The funding will last for one year, and it will be paid to the Maryland Transit Administration.

Officials with the Illinois and Wisconsin departments of transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration spoke with community members in Glenview, IL regarding proposed projects along Amtrak’s Hiawatha line. The transportation agencies are currently studying the possibility of increasing service from seven to 10 daily round trips between Chicago and Milwaukee. A draft environmental assessment for the project said that the increase in service will provide additional times for passengers to travel to help reduce near- and over-capacity of trains during peak hours. It will also help provide alternative travel times for passengers to avoid delays caused by freight and other passenger traffic.

Anti-rail advocates voiced several concerns about the increase in service, including health and safety issues. Other concerns came from the proposal to build a holding track for freight trains, which would require a 20-foot retaining wall that would reduce available green space between residential areas and existing tracks.

Arun Rao with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, said that the additional trains are needed since, “ridership has been steadily increasing and there is growing demand for more public transportation options in the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor. The current service is limited in its ability to meet this demand.”

Glenview officials anticipate that a revised environmental assessment will be released in April and hope that it will address the concerns village officials, residents and legislators have raised about the proposed freight train holding track and proposed track switch installed along the tracks in Glenview.

Support Rail Passengers Through Amazon Smile

In the mood to shop and make your purchase support our advocacy efforts?

The Amazon Smile triple donation promotion kicked off this week, and that means Amazon.com is tripling the donation amount to 1.5% when customers make their FIRST eligible smile.amazon.com purchase.

The promotion runs from March 12 - 31, and this is a great opportunity to increase the Rail Passengers Association's AmazonSmile donations.

Visit: smile.amazon.com/ch/36-2615221

The development of the Southwest light-rail line in Minnesota is taking a small change in direction due to the Metropolitan Council being required to obtain agreements with the freight railroad that runs on part of the proposed route - something it has not been able to do. The light-rail line would run between downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie, but the line is also utilized by Twin Cities & Western Railroad (TC&W) in the Kenilworth corridor in Minneapolis. Discussions between the Council and TC&W have already been in place, but they have not resulted in an agreement.

To move the project forward, the Council is proposing a new agreement that would give Hennepin County “common carrier" responsibilities in the Kenilworth corridor, and allow the county to control which rail carriers could use the tracks. The proposed agreement would also involved a 7-mile stretch of rail between St. Louis Park and Minnetonka that is owned by Canadian Pacific Railway. The council had originally negotiated a deal for $12 million with TC&W to have those rights, but council officials said TC&W imposed new conditions they find unacceptable.

Although the new proposal still needs approval form the county and the council, the Metropolitan Council said the change will not change commencement of construction on the $1.9-billion line, which is set to begin later this year and open in 2023.

New Hampshire will soon begin a study of commuter rail in the state, following the House’s approval to conduct the study using $4 million in federal funding. The study is part of the state’s 10-year plan on transportation, which includes the development of a rail corridor that would run though Concord, Manchester, and Nashua, to Massachusetts. Several Republicans strongly opposed the vote, but Democrats supported the results.

“Commuter rail is a top priority of our state’s business community, and is strongly supported by Granite Staters,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff.

Rep. Skip Cleaver (D-Nashua), who submitted the floor amendment said, “The Merrimack Valley Corridor is the largest metro area in the U.S. without rail service. It is no surprise that chambers of commerce in New Hampshire’s largest cities believe rail will be key to their continued growth. I thank the House for its vote in support of this important federally-funded study.”

The vote of 166-160 also overturns a decision by a House committee to use the funding to study a bus service expansion from Concord to Nashua, which connects to Boston.

2018 ‘At-Large’ And Board Nominations Open

Rail Passengers Association/NARP is inviting members in good-standing to consider running for one of the up-to 10 available ‘At-Large’ positions on the Council of Representatives. These positions are for two-year terms. Elections will be held at the Council's Annual Business Meeting on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 in Alexandria, VA. For more information on the ‘At-Large’ positions, including the duties, responsibilities and required qualifications, and to submit a self-nomination, go to: http://ow.ly/Yxzs30hxl4P.

Self-nominations are also now being sought from qualified members interested in being elected by the Council of Representatives to an Association officer position (Chair of the Board; one of four Vice-Chairs; Treasurer or Secretary) or to one of three available Board Director positions. Board officer positions are for a two-year term and the Board director positions are for a three-year term. For information on Board Officer & Director positions, including the duties, responsibilities and required qualifications, and to submit a self-nomination, go to: http://ow.ly/LGSj30hxlaf.

The deadline to submit Candidate Information Statements is March 31, 2018.

The 2018 - 2020 State Representatives on the Rail Passengers Association Council of Representatives have now been announced. There are still a number of state representative openings available (as noted in the listing) and qualified Rail Passengers Association members in the applicable states are encouraged to consider seeking appointment to these positions. Please contact Bruce Becker for more information if you are would like to be considered.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) will begin a renewal project for the agency’s Route 36 trolley. The project will see SEPTA crews update the 1970s-era track and the street structure, which the agency said has deteriorated from weather, traffic and age of the road. As work takes place on 3,100 feet of track, SEPTA will implement buses for passengers through June 9, which is when the project is expected to be done. Once complete, the new track will be encased in an insulated rubber boot that is designed to reduce sound and vibrations on the trolley track. SEPTA said the construction hours will be Monday-Friday, 7AM to 8PM.

In Chicago next month, Metra crews will begin a major replacement effort of 17,000 rail ties over a span of 17 miles. Crews will also replace five switches, perform brush clearing and continue to upgrade the agency’s signal system ahead of positive train control (PTC) implementation. The work will involve a shutdown of the line north of Lake Forest for three consecutive weekends, as well as other changes to the weekday schedule.

“We realize that this will represent a short-term inconvenience for some of our riders, but track projects like this are absolutely essential to maintaining safe and high-quality rail service,” said Metra CEO and Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “Limiting rail traffic during the work period will significantly condense the project timeline and the overall customer impact.”

The work will take place on the Milwaukee District North Line between Metra's stations in Libertyville and Fox Lake, IL, between April 5 and April 27.