In times of budgetary cutbacks, it's often difficult for leaders to make the bold plans we need to ensure a competitive future. Although long-proposed development of a former industrial waterway and its shoreside acreage would transform the Chicago River into a new economic corridor for the Windy City, funding the city's innovative Riverwalk has been frustrating for Chicagoans and their elected officials.
That's why DOT's Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program (TIFIA) is so important. With TIFIA support, communities like Chicago can leverage loans and credit assistance from the federal government into further financing from other sources. Since its launch, the TIFIA program has made possible 31 projects and turned $10.5 billion in DOT support into more than $42 billion in infrastructure investment across America.
Last year, when President Obama signed MAP-21, he made TIFIA a centerpiece of the new transportation law.
And last week, I was pleased to invite the City of Chicago to apply for a loan from the expanded TIFIA program to help complete its terrific Riverwalk project.
TIFIA capital assistance is intended for projects of national or regional significance, like the Chicago Riverwalk. And when complete, the Riverwalk will be a model for how infrastructure investments can revitalize communities. It represents the kind of big and bold thinking we need right now in America.
According to the city, construction is expected to create 400 jobs, with 400 long-term jobs expected to support the project's activities.
And it fits perfectly with the city's important Revive Wacker Drive project, which DOT has been proud to support.
The Chicago DOT has been working on the Chicago Riverwalk since East-West Wacker Drive reconstruction began in the 1990s. CDOT reconfigured Wacker to accommodate the expansion of the Riverwalk to promote a pedestrian walkway and to allow for greater public use of the river.Chicago is one of America’s strongest cities; it deserves a strong transportation network. With support from DOT's TIFIA, the completed Riverwalk will help the City of Big Shoulders achieve that goal.