The Great Lakes’ largest port by cargo tonnage would make two long-needed infrastructure upgrades through financial assistance proposed to City Council today by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.
The Illinois International Port District (IIPD) would complete $16.7 million in rail and roadway improvements to its facilities along the Calumet River through $3.48 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) from the Lake Calumet TIF District.
The intergovernmental agreement would help the IIPD rebuild 1.1 miles of railroad tracks and private roadways that are used to receive, transfer and ship raw materials like steel, aluminum, grain, sugar and wood. Located near 130th Street and Stony Island Avenue, the deteriorated roads and railways currently in use are more than 20 years old, hampering port operations and causing shipping delays.
“This capital improvement will increase efficiencies and allow current tenants to grow while attracting new tenants to the port,” said IIPD Executive Director Clayton Harris III. “It will help us fulfill our mission as an economic engine for the region, state, nation and beyond.”
The project will be completed in two phases, with the balance of funding coming from multiple Cook County and State of Illinois sources. The rail portion is planned to be completed by the end of this year and the road portion in 2023. Both phases are located within the Port of Chicago, which contains multiple facilities operated by the IIPD.
The work is anticipated to help retain 120 jobs and create 60 jobs among portrelated businesses.
More than 19 million tons of waterborne cargo moves through the Port of Chicago each year, the most of any port on the Great Lakes, according to the IIPD. The port district was established by the Illinois General Assembly in 1951 in anticipation of the 1959 opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which enabled ocean-going vessels from the Atlantic Ocean to enter the Great Lakes. The Port District’s nine-member board consists of five members appointed by the mayor of Chicago and four members appointed by the governor of Illinois.
The 12,000-acre Lake Calumet Industrial TIF District is the largest TIF district in the city by area and primarily located within the South Deering community area. Created in 2000, the TIF district has helped fund site prep work for the Ford Supplier Park on Torrence Avenue, infrastructure repairs to the 130th Street bridge, and site prep work for the Method soap plant on 111th Street, among other improvements. The proposed assistance on behalf of the Port District would be the first use of TIF for the Port of Chicago.
Details about additional TIF-financed projects is available on the City’s interactive TIF portal.
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