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Cook County Funds Center Street Road Project

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced a strategic road project that will help promote economic growth in the south suburbs at a press conference held at the United Parcel Service facility in Harvey on September 12, 2012

The county plans to use $8 – $10 million in Motor Fuel Tax funds to reconstruct and widen Center Street from 159th Street to 171st Street, which is a crucial truck route in Harvey used by United Parcel Service, the Canadian National Railroad’s Gateway Intermodal Terminal, Fore Transportation and other national and local businesses. Work is scheduled to begin in 2013 and continue throughout 2014.

“Cook County is committed to development in the south suburbs and recognizes that building and improving infrastructures is the first step toward attracting business,” Preckwinkle said. “The improvement and expansion of this essential truck route will greatly enhance the transportation network around Harvey’s Industrial Park. But the positive effects don’t stop there. A quality truck route will promote further development around Center Street and could potentially generate up to 3,000 manufacturing and logistic jobs in the south suburbs.”

“This project, I believe, will be one of our great success stories,” Preckwinkle said to more than a dozen mayors, state representatives and manufacturers who had gathered at the Harvey UPS facility located at 16701 Center Street. She thanked many who had contributed to the massive undertaking of this project including SSMMA’s Edward Paesel and Reggie Greenwood, Hazel Crest Mayor Robert Donaldson, Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg, and officials from Center for Neighborhood Technology, UPS, Cook County, Canadian National Railway, Fore Transportation, and many others.

Preckwinkle also said the county Highway Department has numerous other road infrastructure projects that are promoting economic growth in the south suburbs. For instance, Joe Orr Road from east of Stony Island Avenue to Torrence Avenue is being constructed on a new alignment. Future plans include building new sections east to Indiana, making Joe Orr a major east-west corridor for the southeast region of the county.

Preckwinkle also thanked Jim Apa of Fore Transportation for initiating the push to improve Center Street. “A few years back, Mr. Apa approached the county and Commissioner Deborah Sims with the idea to revitalize the street,” she said. “The project had difficulty taking off. During my administration, we applied for federal grants to fund the Center Street project, but we were turned down. Nevertheless, the county was determined to find a way to bring this project to fruition. And today I’m here to tell you: We’re finally going to make it happen. And it’s going to serve as an engine for economic growth in the south suburbs.”

“The only way we’re going to make the area viable is through fixing the infrastructure,” Apa added. “I’m really thankful to Reggie Greenwood who spent many countless hours on making it all happen.”

As deputy director for the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association and its economic development arm, the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation, Greenwood has worked for years on the cleanup, reinvestment, and redevelopment of cargo sites in the region in several projects including one called Logistics and Manufacturing Park Calumet.

Click here to read a related story in the NWI Times.

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