CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, joined by city aldermen and other community leaders in launching Chicago Works, a five year capital plan dedicated to infrastructure and job creation projects.

It’s described as a multi-billion dollar investment for everything from park improvements, street resurfacing, as well as improving existing bridges and sidewalks. Lightfoot’s administration said it includes more than $600 million to modernize infrastructure projects.

Also included is working on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible crosswalk ramps, streetlights and traffic signals among others.

“With paving season underway across our City, we are thrilled to be able to create and offer jobs to our residents that will allow us to make critical infrastructure repairs in all 77 of our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “With an emphasis on equity, the Chicago Works infrastructure plan will allow us to invest in the lives of residents in need and bring our entire city closer together by literally building bridges between our communities. This effort will allow us to unlock our city’s full potential, give our residents the resources they need to succeed right in their own neighborhoods and ensure that our City retains its reputation as a world-class destination filled with state-of-the-art infrastructure.”

Mayor Lightfoot, speaking in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood, said it’s a South Side site of a Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) arterial resurfacing project at 81st Street and Damen Avenue.

According to Lightfoot, within the next two years, CDOT will resurface 75 miles of arterial streets a year. According to Lightfoot’s administration, that’s almost double the miles of a typical year. In total, 500 more residential blocks will be resurfaced every year.

“Our residents across our city have been asking for more streets and sidewalks to be paving more their streets and traffic lights to work properly, and for their neighborhoods to look more attractive,” Lightfoot said. “This quality of life matters, And our new capital plan will be more systematic and making sure that we address those needs, that we hear from our residents and our local elected officials.”

While an exact number wasn’t given, the mayor said she estimates “hundreds of people” to be hired through the Chicago Works project.

“It will allow us to also place a high priority on contracting opportunities for minority and women owned and locally owned businesses,” Lightfoot said. “And allow us to acquire that at least half of the staff hired for most of these projects will live in the city of Chicago.”

“The Mayor’s Chicago Works Capital Plan provides the funding and framework for a legacy investment in our critical transportation infrastructure in neighborhoods across the City, especially in communities challenged by mobility and economic hardships” said CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi. “As our City leads the way on recovery from the pandemic, Chicago Works includes funding for streetscapes, lighting, bikeways, bridges, sidewalks, traffic safety, public art, and more.  These improvements prioritize making it easy to safely move around the city in sustainable ways like walking, biking, and taking public transit while making our streets and our public way vibrant, safe, and inviting places.”

Lightfoot said the Chicago Works project isn’t just about improving streets and sidewalks. The city’s arts community will also be part of this program.

“We aim to create arts jobs for communities that have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, by including public art as an infrastructure expenditure,” Lightfoot said. “For the very first time putting local artists back to work, and further beautifying our communities.”


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