Chicago, Nation’s Transportation Hub, Faces Trucking, Rail and Air Gridlock

Chicago has long been known as the transportation hub of the country and has historically led the nation in air, trucking and rail transportation. However, changes in the economy and space limitations are limiting further expansion of Chicago’s transportation.

Since 2007 Chicago trucking companies have been going out of business or consolidating since 2007. However, Chicago commuters and drivers might not be able to tell given the high levels of road traffic and congestion that remain. Because of the high demand in the Chicago area, transportation assets have been stripped down and led to congestion, delays and calls for major public and private investments in the region’s capacity to move people and goods effectively.

Because U.S. exports are down by 24.3% since July 2008 and imports are off by 1/3, traffic volume in Chicago’s transportation industry is also down. The transportation industry was already heading down last year when oil prices spiked coupled with the Wall Street meltdown which dried up credit and further hampered freight traffic going into 2009.

Airlines have also been hit hard by the economy and rising oil prices. However, despite the changes in airline travel, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is still working with private industries and airlines to pay for the next phase of the O’Hare airport expansion. The project is projected to cost about $6 billion and should be completed in time to making it a selling point for Chicago’s 2016 Olympics bid.

And while airline expansion has been limited by the economic downturn, Chicago’s railroad expansion has struggled with the limited space available for its expansion. Because of the bottlenecks in rail transit in Chicago, freight and transportation companies are now routing more and more around Chicago to avoid these delays. The rail industry is seeking state and federal funds to ease the freight rail bottlenecks in Chicago. Currently the city has a West Loop transportation center project on the drawing board, which would centralize connections for transit, rail and bus.

Employment in the various transportation sectors has seen an even sharper decline due to increased automation in the trucking, airline, and railroad industries. So even if the economy begins to recover over the next several quarters Chicago transportation employment levels might not return to their pre-recession levels until 2012.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling a wide range of Illinois personal injury cases, from trucking accidents, train accidents, and car accidents for over 30 years, serving areas in and around Cook County such as Chicago, Evanston, Oak Park, and Naperville.