We are lucky here in the Third District. We have a large airport that is frequently mentioned as the financial engine on the Southwest Side, and we have more lines of railroad track than any other district in the United States.
This makes the Third District a hub of activity, opportunity, and potential.
We have made some strides here in the last 15 years, but sadly deeply concerning issues remain.
One of the major issues is a lack of collaboration when it comes to solving transportation problems in the Third. Leaders from federal, state, municipal, and county government need to begin convening regularly and publicly with community stakeholders.
The five key issues are:
- The Chicago area transportation network needs to be examined in its totality. Too frequently when problems are identified, just one channel such as railroad traffic is assessed without looking at highway and air travel as well as rideshare impacts.
- Often, band-aid fixes are implemented when short-term and long-term solutions are both available and have funding.
- Leaders have not successfully looked at creating green economy solutions for infrastructure, air, rail, biking, and road travel issues.
- Several “transportation deserts” exist in areas like Bridgeport, Back of the Yards, the southwest suburbs, and Will County
- Large infrastructure and environmental issues in Will County, the Midway area, and several bridges throughout the district
While this is not different than many other districts in the U.S., my proposal is to develop an Impact Assessment System for Transportation and Infrastructure here in Illinois 03 that can be adapted for other districts.
Right now, in the Chicago area, we have several of the highest-ranked ailing/concerning transportation and infrastructure sites in the nation.
We need a plan. This same process should be used in district as well as nationally:
- First, convene federal, state, county, and municipal officials, IDOT, CMAP, other transportation agencies alongside transportation company leaders and the trades unions to build a swiftly moving task force designed to critically and holistically review, assess and prioritize which projects are addressed and in which order
- Implement town halls/hearings with the public or community leaders to hear directly about critical problems prior to solution development
- Incorporate best practices and green solutions for each prioritized project
- Include a workforce training model where needed in order to bring in the best workers who are appropriately trained
- Determine funding sources and partnerships from the CREATE fund, state, local, and transportation companies
- Adopt an implementation system