Lipinski Brings USDOT Administrator Mendez, IDOT Secretary Hannig to Discuss Federal and State Support for Building Central Avenue Bypass

Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) and Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig met with Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez at the future site of the Central Avenue Bypass in Bedford Park today to discuss the project's importance and opportunities for securing the funding necessary to see it through to completion.

"I continue to focus on getting the Central Avenue Bypass built," Congressman Lipinski said. "As residents of the region and numerous local, state, and federal leaders know, this is a project of tremendous importance that will reduce congestion, create jobs, increase safety, and boost business development. I want to thank Administrator Mendez for taking the time to come out from Washington to learn more about the Bypass and meet with me and Secretary Hannig, whose continuing strong support for the Bypass I very much appreciate. We had a very productive meeting."

"We understand the significance of the Central Avenue Bypass," Secretary Hannig said. "This is an area where congestion needs to be mitigated and economic development can be increased.  We are pleased to continue the efforts with Congressman Lipinski and others to take further steps and get closer to seeing this project get done."

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who supports building the Bypass, sent Administrator Mendez to learn more about the project as a follow-up to LaHood's site visit in August and his subsequent conversations with Congressman Lipinski. Administrator Mendez's visit is another sign that this is a project of regional and national importance.

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.

Congressman Lipinski, Secretary Hannig, and IDOT engineers discussed the project in detail with Administrator Mendez at the Bypass site around Central Avenue and 69th Street during the course of an hour-long meeting Tuesday afternoon.

In August, Secretary LaHood, Secretary Hannig, and Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan joined Congressman Lipinski in announcing that the Illinois capital bill contains $60 million for the Central Avenue Bypass. Altogether, $170 million in state and federal funds has been set aside to facilitate completion of design, engineering, and pre-construction for the Bypass. Congressman Lipinski is seeking additional funding for the Bypass from the U.S. Department of Transportation and in the six-year federal transportation reauthorization bill that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is working on. Congressman Lipinski is the only member from northeastern Illinois on the powerful committee. Lipinski has repeatedly called for quick passage of the transportation bill to fund vital infrastructure projects and create millions of jobs.

(Jan. 5, 2010)