News / Politics

Multi-billion Dollar Project Awarded After Controversies

Metra

Metra (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A resolution to the heated debate about the Metra Englewood Flyover Project has finally been approved and “is now on the right track.”

Metra award a $93 million contract Monday, July 16, to IHC Construction as the prime contractor to build a bridge which is expected to carry the Metra Rock Island train over a set of tracks used by Amtrak and freight trains at 63rd and State.

The project, which had three congressmen threatening to block Metra, now will allow African-American companies to seek up to 21 percent of the total construction work, or an additional $19 million worth of subcontracts under the deal, said Rep. Bobby Rush in a statement.

“The voices of the people have finally been heard,” Rush, Rep. for Illinois’s 1st congressional district, said. “We expect to see companies from this community building bridge drainage systems, doing site demolition, wall construction, landscaping, asphalt paving, excavation, pavement marking…and more.”

This process began October of 2009 in Washington when Rush met with Metra officials and the Railroads and Secretary of Transportation to discuss that Black contractors could not be overlooked when it came to this project, said Rush in a statement.

“But when the community learned that the Metra Board has before it a construction contact that only included one African-American company with a $112,000 security contract they got mad,” Rush said. “The result is a protocol…a framework for community inclusion that can be used in the future by contractors not only in Chicago but throughout this state and nation.”

Rush and Reps. Danny Davis and Jesse Jackson Jr. stood firm in May when they demanded that the contract be rebid.

“There are a lot of different ways to increase minority opportunities in a project like this,” Davis, Rep. for Illinois’s 7th congressional district, said in a phone interview. “If they can’t do it one way, perhaps they can do it another way.”

On Monday, the congressmen declared that they had reached a “memorandum of understanding” with the contractor to enhance participation by African-American construction companies.

The memorandum calls for a community liaison to serve as a go-between for IHC and African-American subcontractors and workers, said Rush. It also provides for mentoring opportunities for African-American companies.

“More work and money opportunities for African-Americans” is desired in a community like Englewood Davis said.

IHC Construction President David Rock has agreed to African-American community outreach, partnering and mentoring in order to identify subcontracting and job opportunities.

“Local qualified African-American construction companies will receive the support they need to bid up to 21 percent of the total construction cost,” Rush said.

The current completion date for the project is June 23, 2014, according to the Master State Rail agreement with IDOT. They anticipate the project taking 28 months to complete, putting the completion into the fall of 2014, given no unforeseen conditions.

“Our young people are smart, talented and hardworking. But they need a chance. They need a shot at not getting shot at,” Rush said.

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