The Chicago Rail Bottleneck: What It Looks Like on the Ground

The Chicago rail bottleneck is back in the news, and improving—but the legislative bottleneck threatening it is in the news as well, as transportation funding runs aground on Washington’s partisan divide.

The New York Times has a good piece on Chicago’s rail bottleneck—one of my favorite subjects—and the legislative bottleneck that threatens to delay further improvements:

And there lies a potentially larger problem than anything in the steel rails that snake across the city. While some of the financing for Create has come from private industry and state bonds, further progress depends almost entirely on the ability of Congress to pass transportation legislation. That legislation has historically been passed in a bipartisan manner. But Congress, eager to squeeze the budget and in continual disagreement about the nation’s priorities, has found itself repeatedly at impasse over the current transportation bill.

To get a sense of how frustrating it is for conductors, PBS’s Blueprint America is a good place to start:

Watch Choke Point on PBS. See more from Blueprint America.

The full details of the CREATE program—inevitably public-private, given the history of rail infrastructure financing—are available at



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