CHICAGO – May 15, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today announced the re-opening of the Congress Parkway Bridge, following two years of repairs to ease congestion and improve safety. Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider, area legislators, law enforcement and other transportation officials joined the Governor today to re-open the bridge, a primary route for many commuters into downtown Chicago. Scheduled for completion this month, the bridge will be open ahead of the NATO Summit, which takes place in Chicago May 20-21. Governor Quinn also continued his call for major action from the General Assembly to repair the state’s Medicaid and pension systems this spring session.
“Just in time for NATO, one of Chicago’s most popular bridges is open for driving again,” Governor Quinn said. “The new and improved Congress Parkway Bridge will relieve congestion, enhance traffic flow for motorists and spur economic development throughout the Chicago area. We must continue to strengthen our infrastructure, restore fiscal stability to our state and pave the way for more economic growth.”
The Governor’s pension and Medicaid reform plans will ensure the continuation of the state's capital plan and projects like the Congress Parkway Bridge, which are putting hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents back to work. The pension stabilization plan would save taxpayers up to $85 billion while the Medicaid restructuring plan would create $2.7 billion in savings. Together, these changes will lead to greater certainty in Illinois' business climate and help respond to serious concerns from the ratings' agencies. The reform plans are essential to the state's ability to ensure that critical capital improvement and road safety projects in Illinois are able to move forward.
“Those who regularly travel in and out of Chicago are no doubt familiar with the Congress Parkway Bridge. It’s a critical entryway into one of the greatest cities in America,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “Rehabilitating the bridge was an enormous project – one that kept hundreds of Illinoisans employed and one that will reduce congestion for the millions that visit our city each year. This important project could not have been completed without Governor Quinn’s leadership and a significant federal investment.”
The $33 million Congress Parkway Bridge project began Apr. 1, 2010 and created more than 400 jobs over more than two construction seasons. The project was funded through the state’s FY2010 Regular Construction Program, with 80 percent from Federal Highway Bridge Program (HBP) funds.
“I am pleased to join with Governor Pat Quinn at the re-opening of the Congress Parkway Bridge, which runs right through the heart of the 7th Congressional District into the Chicago Loop. Governor Quinn and IDOT are commended for their coordination which brings this project in before the NATO Summit,” U.S. Representative Danny K. Davis (D-IL) said. “In addition, Governor Quinn is commended for creating thousands of jobs, and improving the infrastructure of the State of Illinois.”
“We cannot run a 21st century economy on 20th century infrastructure," said Mayor Rahm EmanueI. “I want to thank Governor Quinn for his vision and leadership in driving the Congress Parkway Bridge Project through to completion. This vital investment will spur regional economic development for decades to come.”
Built in 1956, the Congress Parkway Bridge accommodates traffic volumes that have increased to almost 150,000 vehicles per day since the last rehabilitation in 1981. The project work included rehabilitation of the bridge structure, replacement of the bridge mechanical system of motors and pumps, and replacement of the entire bridge deck with a closed surface to make travel safer and prevent rusting of steel underneath the bridge. The project also included the replacement of the electrical control system, bridge substructure repairs and deteriorated structural elements.
“Under Governor Quinn’s leadership and through a remarkable degree of coordination and teamwork, we have succeeded in rehabilitating and transforming this critical bridge,” said Secretary Schneider. “This project is a great example of the kinds of transportation investments needed to strengthen our economy, ease congestion and create jobs.”
The project coincided with the ongoing reconstruction and rehabilitation of Wacker Drive, which accommodates 60,000 vehicles per day and connects directly to Congress Parkway. Governor Quinn’s historic Illinois Jobs Now! capital program contributed $72 million in funding, matching $288 million from the federal government, to revive Wacker Drive. The project is expected to create and retain over 3,000 jobs on the Wacker Drive project when it is completed.