Transportation Dept. Hands Out $500 Million More Stimulus Funds – Including $100 Million for Trains in Obama’s Hometown

By Penny Starr | July 20, 2012 | 12:11pm EDT

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 30, 2009 file photograph, people load food supplies onto a special New Jersey Transit train, the Atlantic City Express Service (ACES) in Atlantic City, N.J. The service is a joint venture being paid for by Harrah's, Resorts and the Borgata with help from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. The train provided direct service from New York to Atlantic City. On Friday, March 9, 2012, the three casinos that paid for the service said they are ending it. The ACES train never made money in its three years of existence. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

( – In a fourth round of funding grants paid for by the $831 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Chicago is receiving $100 million of $500 million for CREATE, a regional rail task force.

The task force web site describes the program as a “partnership” between the Transportation Department, the state of Illinois, city of Chicago and the Metropolitan Rail Corporation (Metra), Amtrak, and freight railroads using the rail lines. The task force goals include improving infrastructure, passenger service, public safety, and to “create and retain jobs” and “improve air quality.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced last month that 47 transportation projects in 34 states and the District of Columbia would receive nearly $500 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) 2012 program.

“President Obama’s support for an America built to last is putting people back to work across the country building roads, bridges, and other projects that will mean better, safer transportation for generations to come,” LaHood said in a June 22 press release announcing the awards.

“TIGER projects mean good transportation jobs today and a stronger economic future for the nation,” LaHood said.

The press release also said that $120 million went to “rural areas” but that Chicago and other big cities also received funding. Memphis, Tenn., and Birmingham, Ala., got a combined $105 million – the top award – for two intermodal freight facilities in those states.

Since Obama signed the stimulus into law on Feb. 17, 2009, more than $3.1 billion for 218 transportation projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico has been distributed by the DOT.

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