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The Rock Island route decision is short-sighted. The existing Metra Heritage Corridor that shares the current Amtrak route needs these railroad-railroad grade separation improvements to increase service and divert riders from the saturated Metra BNSF service. Adding a fourth track to the BNSF would be extremely costly and disruptive.
The proposed connection at 39th Street would displace numerous residents and businesses; and that could be solved without displacement with a new direct connection at 16th Street using the "Air Line" bridge over the South Branch. This could be shared with existing Amtrak services to Carbondale and New Orleans and a potential extension of the Metra North Central Service to McCormick Place and a transfer with the Electric District and eliminate the need for a slower and delay-prone west-south alignment around an expanded NS yard for a restored Grand Crossing connection.
The Metra NCS would afford a McCormick Place - Union Station - O'Hare Airport service with limited intermediate stops.that is competitive in convenience, time, comfort, and cost with driving and the CTA Blue Line.
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