HARVEY — Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) today joined local officials and community leaders to break ground on the reconstruction and overhaul of Wood Street/Ashland Avenue. This stretch is a key commercial, industrial, and residential corridor that runs through Harvey, Dixmoor, and Riverdale. The $94 million project will modernize 90-year-old infrastructure while making a critical investment in multiple communities to improve safety, support economic development, create jobs, and enhance quality of life.
“This project in the South Suburbs gets right at the heart of a major throughway for the community: Wood Street and Ashland Avenue,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “In Illinois, we know when we invest in infrastructure, we open doors for our residents. But this isn’t just an investment in our infrastructure – it’s an investment in communities like Dixmoor, Riverdale, and Harvey.”
IDOT will be reconstructing more than three miles between 161st and 138th streets, completely rebuilding the four-lane road to include new curbs, gutters, and lighting. The project will also improve capacity, modernize traffic signals and turn lanes, implement smoother and safer railroad crossings, and include landscaping and aesthetic enhancements. The bridge over the Little Calumet River will be rehabilitated, and bike and pedestrian accommodations will be added throughout the corridor. The project also includes a new storm sewer system to address longtime drainage and flooding concerns, and the replacement of municipal water mains.
The entire project is expected to take two full constructions seasons to finish, with an anticipated completion date in 2025.
As part of an innovative financing arrangement, IDOT is designating $3.6 million in federal credits to help high-need communities reach their financial commitment for the local components of the project. Working on the project will be graduates of the Highway Construction Careers Training Program, an IDOT-initiative partnering with South Suburban College in South Holland and Kennedy-King College in Chicago to provide minority and female students the opportunity to get on-the-job experience toward full-time work and a career in the construction trades.
“Infrastructure is about more than just providing pathways to get from one point to another, it is also about connecting people and uplifting communities,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “This $94 million investment in the historic Wood Street/Ashland Avenue corridor will immediately impact lives by creating jobs, providing on the job training for minorities and women in construction, encouraging economic development, and providing better access to schools and businesses in neighborhoods throughout the South Suburbs.”
Wood Street through Ashland Avenue, north of Thornton Road – was built in the 1930s but never reconstructed, with the original pavement still serving as the roadway’s base in some locations. Among the properties along Wood Street/Ashland Avenue are Maya Angelou Elementary School, Ingalls Memorial Hospital, Cook County forest preserves, and several churches.
“The progress happening on Wood St. through 138th, thanks to Rebuild Illinois, is long overdue,” said Senator Emil Jones (D-Chicago). “Our community shares so much affluent history and it’s time that our streets and roads are a reflection of this beauty. By advancing our transportation, storm sewer systems, railroads, landscaping, and more, we will create greater opportunities for economic growth, and community development and expansion.”
“Whether it’s paving our streets, improving lighting, building sidewalks, or just improving road safety, our multi-year infrastructure plan helps our communities move forward while building an equitable transportation system for all,” said State Senator Napoleon Harris, III (D-Harvey). “All of our streets are a crucial link in our neighborhood, especially Wood Street, which is why we are enhancing its safety for all of our families in Harvey, Dixmoor, Riverdale, and surrounding communities.”
“The reconstruction of Wood Street through Rebuild Illinois will undoubtedly benefit the 30th district by improving safety, supporting our economic development, and beautifying our local communities,” said State Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood). “I’d like to thank my colleagues at all levels of government for their cooperation and hard work in securing funding for this project, which began more than ten years ago. Together, we will continue to better our community and the lives of those who call this area home.”
“This roadway is a vital connection in these south suburbs, and the improvements we are announcing today will help make the area safer and more usable for travelers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and our neighborhoods,” said State Rep. Bob Rita, (D-Blue Island). “I thank Gov. Pritzker and his administration for partnering with me to invest in our communities through road improvements like this one that put safety and economic development first.”
In addition to Wood Street, many other road and bridge improvements in south Cook County are made possible by Rebuild Illinois, Gov. Pritzker’s historic, bipartisan capital program, representing an additional $39 million investment in the region.
Ongoing work includes Interstate 57 resurfacing from Halsted Street (Illinois 1) to Interstate 294 (Tri-State Tollway) at $33 million, 130th Street bridge deck resurfacing and painting over the Bishop Ford Freeway at $4.1 million, and 127th Street bridge deck resurfacing over Interstate 57 at $1 million. Earlier this year, Gov. Pritzker broke ground on a replacement for the 147th Street/Sibley Boulevard station on Metra’s Electric Line, a project made possible by a $10 million investment via Rebuild Illinois.
“At the governor’s direction, IDOT is not just delivering a record number of projects, but also investing in people and communities up and down the state,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “The improvements to Wood Street and Ashland Avenue will have a lasting, positive impact for generations to come.”
For local governments in Cook County, Rebuild Illinois has meant an added $435 million in motor fuel tax revenues to advance projects. Additionally, local governments have received $492 million in Cook County as part of $1.5 billion earmarked for municipal, township, and county projects in Rebuild Illinois for road and bridge improvements, traffic signal upgrades, new storm sewers, sidewalk replacements, and other long-term maintenance needs statewide.
Passed in 2019, Rebuild Illinois is investing $33.2 billion into the state’s aging transportation system, creating jobs and promoting economic growth. Rebuild Illinois is not only the largest capital program in state history but also the first one that touches all modes of Illinois transportation: roads and bridges, transit, waterways, freight and passenger rail, aviation, and bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.
Accomplishments through Year Three of Rebuild Illinois include approximately $8.6 billion of improvements statewide on 4,422 miles of highway, 412 bridges, and 621 additional safety improvements.