Englewood Flyover, Now Under Construction, Will Reduce Metra Delays

Metra Rock Island Train crossing the Dan Ryan Expressway via the Englewod Flyover
A Rock Island train crosses the Dan Ryan Expressway, near where the incline over freight tracks will begin. Photo: Jeff Zoline

The Englewood Flyover is a bridge construction project near 63rd and State Streets that will eventually elevate the tracks for 78 weekday Metra Rock Island trains, so they don’t cross tracks for 60 daily freight and Amtrak trains at the same grade. Work began last September, and construction this weekend will close the Dan Ryan Expressway express lanes. By eliminating the conflict, not only will “a significant source of train delays” be gone, according to Metra, but neighborhood air quality will also improve and noise from idling trains will be reduced.

The construction work is not expected to create its own delays for the Rock Island line, Metra spokesperson Michael Gillis told Streetsblog. The project is part of CREATE, a multi-agency program to reduce freight rail, passenger rail, and transit delays around the region, comprising over 60 distinct projects. Since 2005, 25 percent of the projects have been completed, with full funding committed to 11 more.

When the Englewood Flyover is complete in fall 2014, two other projects to improve Metra and Amtrak service can begin: the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project – a batch of improvements speeding SouthWest Service Metra trains and opening up room at Union Station for Amtrak and proposed high-speed rail service; and the Grand Crossing Project, which will cut 10-15 minutes from six Amtrak runs by eliminating the need to turn around the trains before they enter Union Station.

The blue line represents Metra Rock Island trains, and the orange line represents freight and Amtrak trains. The red marker indicates the conflict crossing that will be eliminated with a flyover.

Englewood Flyover construction this evening
Construction photo from Saturday; click for more. Photo: Anne Alt.
  • I’ve been watching the progress of construction on support piers over the last several weeks as I pass by on the Rock Island. The completion of this project will be a relief to many Rock Island passengers when the conflicts that are sometimes an issue at this junction will finally be eliminated.

    Since off-peak trains are more likely to run behind schedule and miss their scheduled time windows for crossing this junction, they tend to wait at the junction more often than rush hour trains (at least on the trips I’ve taken over the years), making late trains even later. I’ll be celebrating when there’s one less reason for my weekend trains to run late.

  • I asked specifically if construction would cause its own delays and if those delays would occur during the Red Line South shutdown when presumably more people would be riding the Rock Island line. The answer was a definitive “no delays will be caused by construction”. So that’s good.

    Can you take some photos of the construction progress?

  • I’ve experienced occasional minor construction area delays in recent weeks, but nothing more than a minute or two.

    Several weeks back, I was asking a conductor about the work and was told that crews would be pushing to get work on and immediately adjacent to the Dan Ryan done before the start of red line work if at all possible so that crews didn’t end up interfering with each other. All the recent rain caused a few non-working days.

    Crews are currently working on support piers in the Dan Ryan median and between express and local lanes. If weather doesn’t interfere too much, they might be done with those in the next couple of weeks.

    I’ll do my best to get some pictures for you. I’ve found it challenging to get anything usable, so I can’t make any promises of stellar quality images.

  • Construction Props

    those construction props looks promising. hope the construction will be done sooner.

  • Eric Masek

    I kept forgetting to make a note of it, but I recorded the construction area on my commute in today.

  • Looks like it’s progressing nicely. The moment the entire project is finished, delays at this point on the Rock Island line should be eliminated.

  • Eric Masek

    updated 6/24/13

  • That’s a lot of infrastructure!

  • Anne A

    I emailed you a current picture yesterday. Looks like we’ll be seeing a lot more dramatic progress soon, so I’ll be sending more updates.

  • Eric Masek

    update 7/24/13

  • A delay that would have been eliminated had the flyover been done already.

  • Eric Masek

    update 8/26/13

  • Jackie Pratt-redden

    As an immediate resident if this project, I’ve been disturbed relentlessly and bit nice gas Metra offered an apology nor compensation for this disruption. I am a tax paying home owner work to better my community but are they show any such respect. My water supply has been shutoff on more than one occasion, parking in almost impossible through the week and lastly they having been working since midnight. They have been beeping, moving gravel, the earth and equipment

  • Jackie Pratt-redden

    I wonder if the lack of concern is due to the economic division of the neighborhood? I’ll remember at the appropriate time how poorly we were treated during this “Metra project”.

  • Eric Masek

    update 10/4/13

  • Have you contacted your alderman or Metra about the problems you’ve been having?

  • Thanks, I enjoy watching these.

  • Eric Masek

    It has been quite a progression.

  • Hardhat&glasses

    Asking a conductor about the status of Metra construction work is kind of like asking the girl at the McDonald’s drive-up window about the company’s plans to expand in the China market.

  • Anne A

    Some conductors are very well informed. Most are just familiar with operational stuff affecting their job.

  • Eric Masek

    update 11/4/13

  • Metra’s gotta hire you to keep a construction tracker blog on their website…

  • Eric Masek

    update 12/6/13

  • Do you have a video taken from a Metra train riding on the flyover? I heard that last week there were some in-service trains with passengers running on it.

  • Eric Masek

    As a matter of fact, I recorded one last week but didn’t yet upload it. Thanks for reminding me. They’re not using it every day (last friday and today, we didn’t go over it). It doesn’t seem to make a big difference in speed under normal conditions. I did speak with someone that rides during the morning rush hour and he said it made a huge difference one day because there was a freight train crossing at the same point and normally they would have had to wait for it.

  • I was informed Metra is running trains on it at less than normal speed while they test it.

  • Eric Masek

    Video facing the opposite direction and essentially normal speed over the bridge.


Englewood Flyover Now Smoothing Out South Side Metra Rides

The Englewood Flyover train bridge unofficially opened three weeks ago, carrying test trains along the Metra Rock Island District tracts. The mile-long flyover, near 63rd Street and Wentworth Avenue, is one of the largest projects within CREATE, a larger program to untangle railroad flows around Chicago. The $141 million project could eliminate 7,500 hours of Metra delays each year that […]