Initial details have been announced for the city’s application for the first round of funding from the groundbreaking federal infrastructure program. There are $1.2 trillion on the line for states across the nation to use on infrastructure repairs that have been put off for decades, preventing further failures and collapses in transportation systems which are at a critical point. The money is being applied for by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) who is working with other regional authorities to determine the scope of work covered in this first and subsequent applications, with plans to apply for more in future rounds.
Federal government officials have stated that they are looking for projects that go beyond just building roads, with $2.9 billon being available in this first round for projects that are equitable and provide support to underserved and disinvested communities. IDOT is asking for $400 million from the package with an additional $260 million coming from state and regional grants, bringing $660 million worth of improvements for what is considered to be just the first phase of their plan for the West Side of the city. Most of the work will focus on supporting highway I-290, or the Eisenhower Expressway, before a much larger second phase which will look at reconstructing the whole stretch of road according to Crain’s.
The largest part of this initial round would go towards addressing flooding issues in the western suburbs, Chicago has a long history with stormwater problems leading to the massive Tunnel and Reservoir Plan which snakes under the city. Thus $400 million will be used to install new storm sewers alleviating the build-up that often causes disruption to the area. The remaining $260 million would be given to the CTA to reconstruct the Cicero and Austin Blue Line stations, modernizing them and making them accessible with new elevators, lighting, and upgraded security. The surrounding tracks would also be replaced as they are heavily worn down after 54 years of service creating slow zones and lengthy delays.
There is no formal timeline for the work, nor is it guaranteed that the city will win the requested funding, as many other projects nationally are hunting for their piece of the limited pie. However its worth noting that as all urban areas grow, congestion and the issues that come with it will be hard to solve simply by the construction of more roads and highways, officials need to consider alternatives including more public transit, dedicated bus lanes, comprehensive bike lane networks, greenways, trams, high-speed rail and more to truly create an equitable, livable, and inclusive built environment with a once in a generation opportunity.
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What a joke, the first of the states values is: “ Government officials have stated that they are looking for projects that go beyond just building roads.”
Then the first project is about I-290 and road reconstruction. Seriously!?
Yes! The CTA station upgrades are much needed here – The blue line is painfully out of shape in Austin. I would love to see how they make it a bit more ped friendly to get to these overpass stations as well – trying to get across the street with cars trying to get on the highway is a rough task
We are getting repairs to roads and ancient train with minimal upgrades to stations. Horrible. Is there anything new that will be done ? New subways? New bicycle infrastructure? A bike highway on Chicago river ?
This is all putting us further behind
This is why I was reluctant to support the infrastructure bill. Chicago does not need anymore highway widening. Instead it needs a citywide road diet and a major expansion of the CTA and metra is order. All bus and metra tracks need to be electrified the red line extension fully funded. The brown line should be extended to Jefferson and run down the metra electric tracks to south Chicago and the blue should run express tracks down the 290 median. Lakeshore drive should be removed from Roosevelt road to Oak Street and a express tunnel should be built under Columbus drive.
Pretty good ideas but why only partial removal of DLSD? And why keep Columbus – an ultra-wide road splitting through some of the most popular parks in the city?