(Chicago, IL) — August 23, 2011. As a part of the growing spat with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel over the fate of a tax revenue-rich casino for Chicago, Governor Pat Quinn today went out of his way to highlight his efforts to create jobs in Chicago by announcing the start of construction for a railroad project on the city’s South Side.
“This major project will create thousands of jobs by improving the flow of goods and services through one of Chicago’s major manufacturing areas,” Quinn said. “My administration is committed to investing in infrastructure and jobs in every region of our state.”
The $146 million project, located at 130th Street, Torrence Avenue and the Norfolk Southern Railroad, is intended to improve the efficiency of freight rail moving through Chicago. The construction phase is estimated to create more than 1,200 jobs.
The project involves lowering 130th Street and Torrence Avenue to fit under two new bridges carrying the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks. The two streets and the tracks currently intersect, resulting in more than 200 hours in delay for the 32,000 vehicles that drive through the crossing daily. Trucks leaving the Ford Motor Company assembly plant nearby can wait as long as 20 minutes because of passing trains, according to Quinn.
The governor used the occasion to push back on Emanuel’s claim that a casino is the only big revenue and job plan on the table.
Quinn has roundly criticized the gaming expansion legislation approved by the Illinois General Assembly in May. The package would provide one of five new casino licenses to the City of Chicago, and it would likely generate $20 million a month for the cash-strapped city.
Emanuel is eager for Quinn to ok the plan, and that eagerness is rankling the governor.
Many Springfield observers expect Quinn to extract changes to the law in a follow-up “trailer bill” in exchange for his signature on the gaming bill championed by House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and State Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills).
However, other insiders think Quinn may just amendatory veto the measure with poison pill provisions to reassert his relevance in Springfield.