Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois

Rush Announces Progress on Englewood Flyover

Jul 16, 2012
Press Release

CONTACT: Renee Ferguson
(773) 224-6500 ofc.; (202) 674-0891 mobile
Renee.Ferguson@mail.house.gov

CHICAGO — Today Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) made the following statement concerning the participation of African-American contractors in the Englewood Flyover Bridge Construction Project:

We are here to announce that the Metra Englewood Flyover Project is now on the right track.  This morning the Metra Board of Directors voted to approve IHC Construction as the prime contractor for the job.  An Ad hoc committee of citizens concerned about minority participation also approved.

The voices of the people have finally been heard.

IHC Construction President David Rock has agreed to a historic level of 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 on up to 21 percent of the construction cost.

That’s more than $19 million worth of work and that’s just to start.

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.

A community liaison will be appointed to work with all parties to ensure that the opportunities for jobs and contracts are real.  A contractor summit will be held in mid-August where technical questions will be addressed to eliminate any misunderstanding regarding contracting requirements and qualifications.  For this to work, the commitments made on both sides, by all parties must be kept.

We know that the best Stop the Violence Initiative is a Get a Job Initiative.  Our young people are smart and talented and hard working.  But they need a chance.

In Proverbs it is written that “By wisdom a house is built and through understanding it is established.”

An understanding between the community and the contractors has been reached and it’s in writing.  It will be signed here today.

This process began in my Washington Office in October of 2009.  I met at the time with officials from Metra and the Railroads and the Secretary of Transportation to make it clear that black contractors could not be looked over when they build the Englewood Flyover.

When the community learned that the Metra Board had before it a construction contract that only included one African-American company with a $112 thousand security contract they got mad.  They met, they organized and they marched on Metra to get a better deal.  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.

The Memorandum of Understanding that I’ve just described could not have happened without the hard work and commitment of many in the African-American community.  I want to especially thank Judge Michael Stuttley, Hal Baskin and Henry English for their expertise and dedication.  They were powerful and they were precise in their mission.  They realize that there is an emergency in the African-American community and they were determined to stand together.

Congressmen Davis and Jackson who put their feet in the street and their leadership on the line for this project were also an important of this achievement.  Aldermen Sawyer, Brookins and Cochran and Father Michael Pfleger were out front from the beginning.  Senators Hunter and Collins sent their staff to meet and march when they were in Springfield.

I want to thank IHC President David Rock for working with the community.  He chose to be part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

So now we’re going to build a bridge that is not just a gigantic block of cement.  We are building a bridge to the equal opportunity that this nation promises.  We are building a bridge to African-American inclusion in future construction work and professional services across the city and nation.  We are building relationships that we believe will go beyond Englewood…beyond this one project.  I believe the flyover can help our people to cross over the barricades that have blocked progress in the building trades for decades.

I believe, if all parties continue to act in good faith, the Englewood Flyover can truly be a bridge for the future.

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Click to read the Rush Protocols