Congressman Lipinski, USDOT Secretary LaHood, Speaker Madigan, IDOT Secretary Hannig Announce Funding, State and Federal Commitments for Central Avenue Bypass

Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) brought together key officials - including U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, and Illinois Secretary of Transportation Gary Hannig - to declare state and federal commitments to building the Central Avenue Bypass and to announce that Illinois' new capital bill includes $60 million that will facilitate completion of the design and engineering work for the long-awaited project. The press conference - organized by Lipinski at the future site of the Bypass - also included Illinois Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Martin Sandoval, Illinois Senate Majority Caucus Whip Louis Viverito, Illinois Representative Michael Zalewski, and Bedford Park Village President David Brady.

"I am proud to be joined this morning by so many key local, state, and federal leaders - including U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, and Illinois Secretary of Transportation Gary Hannig - to make two important announcements," said Lipinski. "First, the new capital bill that was recently passed in Illinois includes $60 million which - when added to the $110 million in federal and state money already set aside - will facilitate completion of the design, engineering, and other pre-construction work for the Central Avenue Bypass. Second, to declare strong state and federal commitments to work together for the completion of this long-awaited project. With the dedication of all the key officials that I have brought together today, the Central Avenue Bypass is sure to be a dream that comes true."

A project of regional and national significance, the Central Avenue Bypass has been a goal of numerous local, state, and federal leaders for more than three decades and is eagerly awaited, especially by residents of Southwest Chicago and the South Suburbs. South-bound Central Avenue currently dead-ends in the vast rail yard just south of Midway Airport, leaving a three-mile stretch with no north-south access in the heart of the nation's transportation hub. The resulting traffic delays on Harlem Avenue and Cicero Avenue disrupt commerce on a local, regional, and national basis. Building the Bypass will create jobs, reduce congestion, and boost business development in Northeastern Illinois by restoring the efficient flow of goods, services, and people.

"There is no other issue that I hear more about from my constituents than getting a Central Avenue Bypass," stated Lipinski. "With this three mile roadblock to north-south traffic, Harlem and Cicero Avenues are terribly congested, costing time, wasting fuel, and harming the environment.  I grew up a couple miles from here, and the hope for a Central Avenue Bypass has been an issue for residents of the Southwest Side and South Suburbs since I was a kid coming to Midway Airport to watch the planes land.  But because Chicagoland is the transportation hub of our nation, this bypass also has significant economic implications, locally, regionally, and nationally. Congestion kills business and kills jobs."

All told, approximately $170 million in state and federal funds has been reserved for the Bypass, including the $60 million in the capital bill. This money is expected to pay for pre-construction engineering and right-of-way acquisition to prepare the project for the next step: construction.

"I'm delighted to be here to give the Central Avenue Bypass my full support," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "This is a project of regional and national importance that promises to reduce congestion and help drive economic growth. We at the Department of Transportation will work with Congressman Lipinski and others to make sure that the Bypass is a priority in the federal transportation reauthorization bill because we know how important it is."

"As a strong believer in the importance of the Central Avenue Bypass, it was my pleasure to work to include this project in the capital bill," said House Speaker Michael Madigan. "I know that it will bring much-needed congestion relief to the region. I look forward to continuing to work with Congressman Lipinski and to seeing the Bypass completed."

"The $60 million in the Illinois capital bill that is going directly towards the Central Avenue project is a great start," said IDOT Secretary Gary Hannig. "We are pleased to see this project moving in the right direction and plan to see it all the way through to completion."

"I want to thank Speaker Madigan, Governor Quinn, and Secretary Hannig," Lipinski said. "Without them, today's announcement would not have been possible. I also want to say a special thank you to Secretary LaHood for his strong support. I'm looking forward to the day when the first driver sails past the rail yard on Central Avenue, and traffic freely flows down Cicero and Harlem at rush hour. That day is a lot closer today than it ever has been before."

(August 10, 2009)


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