CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) says he has been told there are virtually no minority firms being considered in a massive Metra construction project in the Englewood neighborhood, and he’s prepared to shut Metra down.
And as WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, Rush has got some heavy clout in his corner.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
Rush said he would stop Metra in its tracks over the contract for the construction of the Englewood Flyover – for which Rush himself was present for the groundbreaking.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) are all backing him.
“If somebody says, ‘Well, do you like the tactic?’ whatever? Forget the tactic,” Mayor Emanuel said at an unrelated news conference Friday. “He’s got people’s attention, which means you’re going to get a solution to this problem.”
“I don’t want to shut it down,” Durbin said. “But I want to join him in putting pressure on those who are involved in it to move toward more diversity employment; more Illinois employment.”
“We want to make sure there is diversity in the workforce, as well as those who are doing it,” Quinn said.
The total cost of the federally-funded project is $133 million. It will involve the construction of a north-south bridge to carry Metra Rock Island Line trains over east-west Amtrak Norfolk Southern trains and transcontinental freight tracks above 64th and State streets, eliminating a bottleneck that currently snags the lines.
The north-south Metra tracks serve 78 Metra trains daily, and the east-west trains serve 14 Amtrak and 46 freight trains. On average, a train comes through the intersection every 10 minutes, causing congestion.
When the bridge is completed in the spring of 2014, it will also include space underneath to create a high-speed railroad from Chicago to St. Louis.