Riley Advances Bill to Create Southeast Commuter Rail Transit District

Springfield, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Lawmakers took a step closer to a much-needed expansion of public transportation services for south suburban commuters with the passage by the Illinois House of Representatives of legislation sponsored by state Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields). Other House sponsors include Paul D. Froehlich, David E. Miller, William Davis, Anthony DeLuca. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Toi W. Hutchinson. The measure was approved on Thursday, and now moves to the Senate.

“This is an important first step in securing the funding needed to expand transit services for our community and give local residents greater access to downtown Chicago,” Riley said. “Expanded Metra services would open up opportunities to find jobs and access resources in Chicago while also encouraging development here at home.”

House Bill 1644 creates the Southeast Commuter Rail Transit District. The creation of this district allows the area to apply for federal funding for the proposed 33-mile Metra South East Service (SES) line. The SES line would run along existing freight and passenger railroad tracks, expanding Metra’s rail service between the south suburbs and downtown Chicago. TheSES line would link close to 20 communities in south Suburban Cook and Will counties to Chicago.

The SES line is part of the Federal New Starts Program. Projects seeking New Starts funding, like all federally-funded transportation investments in metropolitan areas, must emerge from a locally-driven, multimodal transportation planning process and follow FTA’s New Starts planning and project development process. Creating the transit district allows the project to move forward in this process.

“The south suburbs are quickly-growing communities and are currently being underserved in terms of public transportation options,” said Ed Paesel, executive director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association. “My association urges the Senate to pass this legislation and the governor to sign it into law so this vital economic development project for the region can move forward.”

Included in the Transit District are the villages of Crete, Steger, South Chicago Heights, Lansing, Lynwood, Glenwood, Thornton, South Holland, and Dolton and the cities of Calumet City and Chicago Heights.