Metra operates first trains over new Z-100 bridge

Oct. 7, 2019
The new structure is part of a larger project to eliminate the last remaining single-track segment along the line linking Elgin to downtown Chicago.

Metra, along with local and elected officials, celebrated the inaugural run of trains over the new Z-100 Fox River Bridge in Elgin, Ill., on Metra’s Milwaukee District – West Line.

This is part of a project that will ultimately replace a 500-foot single track bridge with a double track bridge to help alleviate a choke point on a line that sees 54 Metra trains and up to eight Canadian Pacific freight trains each weekday.

The bridge, located about 35 miles from downtown Chicago, was constructed in 1881 and is the only remaining single track segment between Elgin and downtown Chicago. The project consisted of a new bridge build west of the existing bridge’s location. This is the part of the project that was celebrated on Oct. 3. A second bridge will be rebuilt on the existing bridge’s alignment with demolition expected to start shortly.

Illinois Constructors Corporation of Elburn was awarded a $21.6-million contract in September 2017 for the bridge structure. Metra forces are responsible for building and installing the project’s track and signal elements. The new structure has three piers, a reduction from the original structure’s two, which will provide greater resistance to longitudinal forces and improve water flow in the river below.

“Completing this bridge will improve the reliability, performance and operational flexibility of the Milwaukee District West Line, and also improve our ability to expand service in the future to meet the needs of both passenger and freight service,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski.

Metra was awarded a $14 million federal grant in 2015 through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program, which was a precursor to the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grant program.

Support for the successful grant application was led by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who was a congresswoman at the time. Sen. Duckworth attended the groundbreaking of the bridge in 2017, as well as the Oct. 3 event to celebrate the inaugural train operating over the bridge.

Derwinski noted the railroad’s gratitude for the senator’s support.

“I can say with confidence that we would not have been able to fund this work and complete this bridge without her tireless advocacy on our behalf,” he said.

“Investing in our state’s infrastructure is one of the most important things we can do to move Illinois forward,” said Sen. Duckworth. “The new Z-100 Fox River Bridge will improve safety and relieve rail congestion. I will continue working to secure federal resources for projects like this and other critical infrastructure projects across the state that spur local economic development and create good-paying jobs here in Elgin and throughout Illinois.”