CHICAGO - On Tuesday, Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch and other west suburban politicians called for completely rebuilding the Eisenhower Expressway.
"We love the Ike, but the Ike don't love us," Welch said.
The Eisenhower was ranked last year as America’s most-congested interstate highway.
There's little doubt the rebuild is going to happen, with billions of new federal highway dollars available and the endorsement of Speaker Welch from suburban Hillside and Oak Park resident Don Harmon, president of the State Senate.
"Rebuilding the Eisenhower is the quintessential opportunity to Build Back Better. And we can do it in a way that has an eye toward social justice, toward climate change and towards repairing some of the lingering scars through our communities," Harmon said.
Construction of the Eisenhower Expressway six decades ago required bulldozing 400 businesses and the homes of 13,000 people in some of Chicago’s then-most vibrant neighborhoods: Little Italy, Greek Town, the heart of the old Jewish west side and several African American communities. Most of those displaced are now dead and gone, but officials say rebuilding and improving the Ike would do much more than simply speed up rush hour traffic.
"It will not only allow us to compete in the global economy long-term, but will create nearly 22,000 jobs, generate $70 million in both state and local tax revenues, as well as $2.6 billion in gross domestic product to accelerate our economic recovery and our growth," said Jack Lavin, CEO of Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.