May 16, 1999
City of Evanston

Public Transit Infrastructure Repair, System Soundness on Top of ?To Do? List

EVANSTON, Illinois (May 16, 1999) -- As the deadline for state legislative action grows ever-closer, elected officials from Evanston joined CTA Board Chairman Valerie Jarrett and President Frank Kruesi today to voice their support for the transportation funding included in Governor Ryan's proposed infrastructure program, Illinois FIRST.

Standing below a visibly crumbling viaduct that supports the CTA trains that carry commuters from the northshore suburbs to Chicago each day, Evanston Mayor Lorraine Morton declared: ?Public transit is not just a City of Chicago issue. The suburbs will benefit as much or more from the public transportation funding included in the governor's package. Evanston residents depend on the CTA, Metra and Pace to get to and from downtown as well as around Evanston." Morton continued: ?If we don?t receive adequate funding, these viaducts won?t be the only things crumbling."

Morton said that the viaduct at the Main Street station is only one among numerous structures in Evanston that are in dire need of repair ? repair that she stressed can only be accomplished with the passage of Illinois FIRST.

The Evanston viaducts were built in the 1920s to accommodate the growing number of people for whom the trip between the northern suburbs and the city was a daily occurrence. While the use of the rail lines have increased exponentially as the living and work patterns of the region have changed, funds have never been available to make needed structural improvements.

Newly elected State Representative Julie Hamos, who represents parts of Evanston, Skokie and Chicago stressed the urgency of infrastructure investment to both Chicago suburbs and the entire. ?Reliable transit is fundamentally important to the continued economic health and growth of our region. While we can all applaud the economic and population growth that is occurring throughout the Chicago area, we need to understand that only through investment in our infrastructure, particularly public transit, can this growth be sustained and supported."

As the state representative, I understand the immediate value of Illinois FIRST for the residents of Evanston," said Hamos. ?I know that infrastructure and public transit funding are critical to ensure the high quality of life and continued economic success for the more than 70,000 residents in Evanston and the people in every region of this state."

?Illinois FIRST? is exactly the right name for this needed program," said State Senator Art Berman, who represents residents of both Chicago and the northern suburbs. ?If Illinois is to remain competitive, we must have good roads, good bridges, and most important, good public transportation to enhance the commerce that makes our state strong."

Evanston resident, State Representative Jeffrey Schoenberg, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee for General Services and Government Oversight, stressed the need for unity in the state legislature. ?Evanston needs viaduct repair, the CTA needs infrastructure investment, Chicago and the suburbs need repair of roads and bridges and downstate Illinois has equal and similar needs. It is time for our legislators to put aside politics, put aside personalities and put Illinois FIRST."

Of the $12 billion in the Illinois FIRST Program, $4.1 billion is slated for use in funding public transportation; of these funds, $1 billion will go to the CTA, and a portion of these funds would be available to repair Evanston's viaducts.

"Investments in infrastructure in the suburbs are as important as the ones we make within the city," said CTA President Kruesi. "We are one region, one economy ? and to the thousands of customers who use public transportation to traverse northern Illinois each day to get to and from work, school and play -we are one transit system. Suburban and city residents alike are counting on Illinois FIRST to meet our common needs."

Kruesi stressed that with increases in suburban housing and business development, the CTA's suburban ridership continues to increase. Evidence of the importance of CTA and other public transit funding was visible last week when elected officials from the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus gathered in Springfield to support the public transit portion of the Governor's initiative.

"The only way to address road congestion in our metropolitan region is to supplement our highway system with public transit alternatives," said CTA Chairman Valerie Jarrett. ?We?re lucky. We already have the system ? we just need to ensure its health and Illinois FIRST can help us do that."

Jarrett explained that not only will Illinois FIRST help fund transportation directly, but the package will also secure about $900,000 in federal transit funding for the CTA. The federal money, however, will be lost if Illinois does not invest its own dollars in transportation improvements.

"An efficient transportation system is a vital component to ensuring the region is prepared to tackle the challenges of the new millenium," said State Representative Kathy Parker.

Contact:  Marilyn Katz, Brian Berg (Evanston) 312-822-0505Media Relations (CTA)312-222-6106

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