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Gov. Pat Quinn OKs $1.6 billion in transportation work

Gov. PQuinn signs inlaw next phase Illinois Jobs Now! Capital plan. The event was held future highway/rail project Bellwood Tuesday

Gov. Pat Quinn signs into law the next phase of the Illinois Jobs Now! Capital plan. The event was held at a future highway/rail project in Bellwood Tuesday, July 10, 2012. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 12, 2012 6:24AM

A nearly $3 million project to improve the dilapidated and heavily used 35th Street pedestrian bridge is one of nearly 200 transportation projects announced Tuesday that will create more than 18,400 jobs statewide.

Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday signed a bill that will authorize the Illinois Department of Transportation to go forward with $1.6 billion worth of road, rail and transit projects statewide. An additional $93.8 million was announced for road and bridge projects in Chicago, which will allow nearly 100 miles of Chicago streets to be resurfaced.

The bill funds the second phase of the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, which created a pool of funding for transportation projects in 2009.

“Today’s law ensures that Illinois will continue moving forward,” Quinn said.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stood beside the governor near one of Bellwood’s most dangerous intersections on 25th Avenue near Grant Street. The area will get $36.2 million for a project to separate the road from railroad.

“By separating the roadway from the rail, the project will reduce delays in the numbers of crashes significantly,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said. “The highway grade separation will increase transit efficiency, emergency response time and will improve access to the Metra commuter station.”

Among the Chicago projects is steel work on the Wells Street Bridge over the Chicago River. The bridge, built in 1922, supports both Brown and Purple line CTA trains. City officials have said the bridge will undergo a major rehabilitation and construction could cause limited closures for the CTA.

The CTA also will get $392 million for reconstruction of the Red Line’s North Branch and rehabilitation of a portion of the Purple and Blue lines. Pace will get nearly $49 million for fixed route projects, while Metra will get nearly $89 million for system improvements.

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