Cook County will undertake a key road project next year designed to serve as a major tool for economic development in the southern suburbs.
At their meeting today, Cook County Commissioners approved a measure that will enable the County to tap state and federal monies to supplement its own funds in the reconstruction of a key section of Center Street in Harvey. That roadway helps service the giant CN Railroad intermodal facility and is badly in need of modernization.
“Almost two years ago I committed the County to this project, and with approval today of the intergovernmental agreement by the County Board, we will be able to begin work next year,” said President Toni Preckwinkle.
“The project will facilitate the movement of truck traffic in to and out of the CN yard and our hope is that it will also spur interest in the economic development of nearby vacant or underutilized industrial land. Improving this vital truck route is part of the County’s strategy in the South Suburbs, to improve infrastructure that supports existing businesses, attracts new business, serves as a significant tool for community development and is in the best interests of south suburban residents.”
The project will comprise 1.5 miles of roadway along Center from 159th to 171st Streets. Total cost is estimated at about $9 million; of that amount, the County is expected to pay about $8.254 million, the state $96,000 and the federal government $650,000. The Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways will be the lead agency for the project, including letting and awarding the contract and supervising construction.
The road, which is under the County’s jurisdiction, was built at a time when trucks were smaller, narrower and lighter, and before increased intermodal traffic at the terminal. Improvements will include widening, turn lanes and signalization, as well as better drainage.
Center Street is the major point of access for CN’s Gateway terminal, which in 2012 handled some 440,000 containers, up from 313,559 less than a decade earlier.