Mayor Lightfoot Announces Five-Year Capital Plan for Chicago
Launching in 2021, the new plan leads with equity to strengthen Chicago’s infrastructure, create jobs, and spur economic development in every neighborhood across the city
CHICAGO, IL — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Office of Budget and Management along with the Chicago Departments of Transportation (CDOT) and of Assets, Information and Services (AIS) today announced a Five-Year Capital Plan to improve the quality of life for all Chicago residents by investing in infrastructure and City facilities in all 77 communities. The Five-Year Capital Plan is estimated to put thousands of Chicagoans back to work and will address the decades-long backlog of infrastructure needs. The multi-billion-dollar plan will allocate dedicated funding for the repair and replacement of bridges, shoreline revetment, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible sidewalks, street resurfacing, streetlights and traffic signals among others. The City plans to fund 2021 and 2022 construction through $1.4 billion in General Obligation (GO) bond proceeds introduced as part of the City’s budget process.
“Our Five-Year Capital Plan is our latest ambitious campaign to invest in Chicago’s residents and businesses, and lays the groundwork for our future as a premier global destination and the best city in the world to call home,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “By leading with equity, we are ensuring that this success is not only driven by our historically disinvested communities, but brings our whole city closer together by literally building bridges across neighborhoods and unlocking our full potential for decades to come.”
The Five-Year Capital Plan priorities were developed on needs-based condition assessments and data-driven processes conducted by CDOT and AIS. The plan promotes equity, public safety and year-to-year project continuity by funding repairs in every neighborhood aiming to reduce operational costs and addressing years of complaints about aging infrastructure, fleet and IT systems. The City will work with Aldermen and the community to first tackle the projects that have been identified as being in the worst condition.
"This Five-Year Capital Plan provides CDOT with the resources to make vital infrastructure investments across the entire city of Chicago, including those prioritized in the Mayor's Invest South/West Initiative,” CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi said. “Through this plan, we will work with our partners to invest in our neighborhoods in a way that emphasizes equity, safety and mobility and lowers the economic and environmental burden of transportation for all of our residents."
In addition to addressing deferred maintenance, the City will also engage with Aldermen and the community in the planning and design process of new neighborhood investments that will enhance community vitality and drive economic development. Initiatives include: the citywide Vision Zero traffic Safety program, which aims to reduce traffic incidents; upgraded bikeways that improve system connectivity and safety for all users; and investments in Invest South/West corridors including streetscapes, facility improvements and public art.
The investments laid out in the Five-Year Capital Plan will make meaningful improvements to address sustainability issues in Chicago such as greenhouse gas emissions, storm water management and local air quality. Notable investments will be made to improve conditions for residents who walk, bike and take public transportation, allowing for safer and more efficient citizen experiences across the city. The plan will also increase the ability for streets and alleys to absorb storm water to reduce the pressure on sewers by substantially increasing the number of green alleys the city constructs from 8 to 50 annually and investing an additional $3 million each year to plant new trees. These measures not only support water preservation through the absorption and retention of water but have the added benefits of improving air quality, reducing urban summer temperatures, and beautifying our neighborhoods. Finally, the plan makes meaningful investments to protect and preserve one of Chicago’s premier assets: its lakefront. Shoreline revetment projects will continue the work of combating damaging erosion while creating more ways for residents to access and enjoy the lakefront.
The Five-Year Plan also outlines significant steps to address deferred maintenance needs in City buildings such as libraries, firehouses, office buildings and health centers across Chicago. Improvements include, but are not limited to roofing, mechanicals, electric and plumbing to enhance the safety and energy efficiency of buildings. The City’s fleet will also receive new investments, including public safety vehicles and garbage trucks, as AIS works toward its goal of attaining a smaller fleet with newer vehicles ultimately requiring less spares and vehicle maintenance. Newer equipment also provides greater fuel economy, higher reliability, and modern safety features.
“Revitalizing Chicago’s facilities improves the quality of life in every community by ensuring residents can enjoy city services and programming in buildings that are welcoming and safe,” said AIS Commissioner David Reynolds.
“Additional investments in fleet and equipment will not only drive down our operations and maintenance costs but improve the efficiency and productivity of our workforce ensuring residents get services faster.”
The plan is expected to bring thousands of Chicago residents back to work; most programs require at least half of hired staff must live in Chicago. The City procurement and contracting process will place a high priority on using minority, women-owned and locally owned businesses. Comprehensive and consistent outreach, education, and support for these businesses and proactive workforce partnerships, paired with strong enforcement of contract goals and commitments, will receive renewed focus and be a hallmark of this Capital Plan.
"Now more than ever, our residents are in need of good-paying, sustainable jobs to stay afloat and remain a part of the communities they call home," said 36th Ward Alderman Gilbert Villegas. "The Five-Year Plan will not only satisfy this need, but it will also significantly enhance our residents' quality of life through infrastructure projects. I am proud to partner with the Mayor's Office and CDOT on this initiative because when we invest in our workforce, we invest in our City as a whole."
Historically, the City has issued GO Bonds to fund Aldermanic Menu and limited capital infrastructure improvements, but traditional funding has fallen short of providing the resources required to achieve a regular asset replacement cycle. Funding for this capital plan is proposed through the issuance of General Obligation (GO) bonds. GO bonds are long-term debt backed by property tax revenue and are used to fund a variety of City infrastructure and facility projects, particularly those that otherwise lack a dedicated funding source. The GO Bond funded work for the Five-Year Capital Plan will complement aviation, water and sewer projects funded through enterprise funds.
INVESTMENTS TO STRENGTHEN CHICAGO’S INFRASTRUCTURE
The Capital Plan is broken down into 10 primary categories. Highlights of the first 2 years of funding include:
- Aldermanic Menu Program: $216 million over two years that includes increasing the yearly menu budget, per ward, from $1.32 million to $1.5 million.
- Bridges and Viaducts: $164.3 million to complete the funding for 23 bridge replacement projects, $66.2 million for 37 bridge repair projects, $16.9 million to rehabilitate 13 underpasses; and $7.5 million to begin the process of improving vertical clearance at 5 viaducts.
- Pavement Resurfacing: $250.4 million for residential and arterial street resurfacing based on the Pavement Condition Index and ADA Ramp needs. This also funds the reconstruction of 37 WPA streets annually along with 100 new Green Alleys to improve drainage and sustainability; one green alley in each ward every year.
- Street Lighting: $112.3 million to replace 4,000 aging light poles, complete replacement of 300 blocks of lighting infrastructure, and strategic wiring stabilization repairs.
- Traffic Signals: $28.4 million to modernize the City’s historically underfunded traffic signal system.
- Sidewalks and Pedestrian Right-of-Way: $112.2 million for sidewalk repair (hazardous, vaulted, shared sidewalk programs, ADA ramps, curb and gutter, and alley aprons) to increase accessibility and public safety.
- Complete Streets: $49.0 million for improvements to bike lanes, priority bus routes, pavement markings and Vision Zero pedestrian safety projects. $104.2 million towards the funding of 24 streetscape projects including those in Invest South/West Corridors. $6 million for planting 12,000 trees.
- Waterways: $12.3 million for the reconstruction of 1 mile of lakeshore encompassing Morgan Shoal and the expansion of the Calumet River Dredging Facility to ensure clean waterways for commerce on the Calumet River.
- Facilities: $132.5 million for renovations and system upgrades to public facilities such as Department of Family and Supportive Service centers, Chicago Department of Public Health locations, Chicago Public libraries, dozens of non-public facing facilities. This budget also includes environmental remediation of city-owned land and demolition of hazardous buildings.
- Equipment: $162.1 million for the City’s fleet, equipment, and IT systems.
This Five-Year Plan underscores Mayor Lightfoot’s commitment to addressing areas of historical disinvestment across Chicago’s neighborhoods through an equity-focused approach. Earlier this year, at the direction of Mayor Lightfoot, CDOT carried out nearly $7 million in infrastructure work through the Invest South/West program, including refurbishing a deteriorated railroad viaduct at 59th and Halsted; lighting improvements at 38 viaducts; paint-and-post bump-outs to improve traffic safety; and repairs to sidewalks, curbs and gutters and CTA bus pads. Additional CDOT work in the Invest South/West area included reconstruction of a WPA street at 73rd and Damen and completion of upgrades to Drexel Boulevard in Bronzeville. Once approved by City Council, work would begin in January 2021.