The Chicago Regional Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program improvements are intended to reduce congestion experienced by freight and passenger rail lines throughout the Chicago area. GZA has evaluated noise, vibration, special waste, and natural resource impacts for more than 15 individual CREATE projects. The involvement of multiple regulatory bodies adds complexity: projects are processed through Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) environmental procedures; rail impacts are assessed utilizing Federal Transit Authority (FTA) methodologies for noise and vibration; and FTA screening procedures and General Assessment protocols determine potential receptors and impacts. Our team helped develop streamlined methodologies to satisfy FTA and FHWA/NEPA processes to assess air quality, noise, and special waste for the overall CREATE program.
Several projects, including the B4/B5-LaGrange/Bellwood project in Cook County, Illinois, involved signal and switch upgrades and new crossovers to allow increased train speeds and capacity in dense residential areas. Noise, vibration, and loss of tree cover were of particular concern to the public.
GZA conducted noise and vibration analyses to evaluate the potential impacts of the proposed improvements. Specifically, for the B4/B5 project, 60 receptor locations were analyzed using the general noise assessment; 17 required detailed-assessment-level evaluation; and based on detailed assessment results, noise abatement evaluations were then conducted for those determined to be impacted. Additionally, 11 receptors were analyzed for potential vibration impacts. Our natural resource experts evaluated tree impacts along the corridor. The noise/vibration and tree information was summarized in the environmental document, and we participated in the public hearing.
GZA’s contributions to the success of the CREATE program far exceed the noise, vibration, environmental, and natural resources expertise it contributes to individual projects. By developing methodologies that blend the processes of the multiple regulatory bodies involved, we have streamlined the environmental process for all projects in the program.
Some projects in the CREATE program were completed by Huff & Huff prior to its acquisition by GZA.