By Joe Avram
As a transportation engineer, I was obviously thrilled to hear that Governor Quinn approved $1.6 billion in transportation work throughout Illinois. Naturally, any engineer would be excited about the prospect of new business and new opportunities. However, this news also acts as an excellent example of why I chose a career in civil engineering. Engineering helps communities and improves the lives of the people and businesses that reside there. So, wondering how these changes may affect you?
Resurfacing and Roadway Improvement
Potholes damage tires, crack rims, and ruin a car’s alignment…just to name a few. Imagine how much money could be saved on car repairs if 100 miles of old Chicago roadways were resurfaced? We’ll, that’s just what the state has planned. On top of that, smooth roadways can even help improve your gas mileage too. Come on, who doesn’t want to save a little money on car repairs and gas?
Easing the Intersections of Roads and Railways
Everyone hates getting stuck by that freight train when you’re in a time crunch, but those inconveniences can put significant stress on local businesses. It isolates them and decreases the overall traffic past their storefronts. That’s why the State has allocated funds to modernize rail infrastructure with an overpass separating trains and vehicles at 25th Avenue in Bellwood.
Improving CTA and Metra Transportation
Public transportation is a quick and affordable way to travel, but realistically it isn’t always the most reliable. Railway issues often causes delays, leaving passengers packed on crowded trains not going anywhere fast. If you’ve been stuck on a packed el train in the summertime, you’ll be happy to hear the state plans to repair the Wells Street Bridge over the Chicago River that supports both the Brown and Purple Line CTA trains. Money has also been allocated for improvements that will be made to the Red, Blue and Purple Line, as well as to Pace routes.
Creating and Improving Pedestrian Crossings and Walkways
In 2010, 32 pedestrians were killed in Chicago after being hit by a motor vehicle. So, it’s no surprise part of the State’s plan includes creating and improving pedestrian crossings and walkways. Some of these projects include a 35th Street bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive and vaulted sidewalks and accessible ramps on parts of Michigan Avenue and State Street.
In general, these transportation improvements will help individuals save money, support local businesses, improve travel times, and protect the safety of travelers. As an engineer, I’m proud to say it’s my job to make these improvements happen.