Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the next phase of his sweeping infrastructure plan Thursday, vowing to add 40,000 jobs through a variety of projects—including an “express rail” to O’Hare International Airport.
“If you build it, jobs will come,” Emanuel said during a speech at the Chicagoland Laborers’ District Council Training & Apprentice Fund.
Five years after laying out his bold “Building a New Chicago” plan at the same venue, Emanuel outlined his proposal for an "express rail" line that would directly connect the Chicago Loop with O’Hare.
“Creating faster connections between the economic engines of O’Hare and downtown and our central business district the economic engine of our Central Business District… can pay dividends for generations to come for the city of Chicago and continue to secure its place in the world economy as a world class economy,” Emanuel said during a speech at the Chicagoland Laborers’ District Council.
Emanuel isn’t the first Chicago mayor to push for a high-speed rail system to O’Hare. While in office, former Mayor Richard M. Daley unsuccessfully lobbied Chinese investors to construct a high-speed line from the Loop to the airport, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
On Thursday, the mayor noted that attorney Bob Rivkin has been retained to work on the O'Hare project, comparing the city's plan to similar high-speed rail systems in London, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Toronto. Rivkin, a former general counsel at the U.S. Department of Transportation, will provide legal advice “in identifying a clear path forward and working with potential partners,” according to the mayor’s office.
Additionally, Emanuel touted plans for a new Green Line stop at Damen Avenue, which would improve transit options for visitors to the nearby United Center and businesses in the Kinzie Corridor. According to the mayor’s office, the city expects to start both new projects over the next three years.
Emanuel pushed Thursday for continued economic growth in Chicago, noting that the city has already created 60,000 new jobs under his bold infrastructure program.
“When we invest in building a new Chicago, we’re putting people from Chicago’s communities to work in Chicago’s communities,” Emanuel said.
“Investments in our infrastructure are about much more than steel and concrete,” he added.
The mayor also said he was “making it a priority” to complete an estimated $1 billion redevelopment of Union Station. Emanuel hopes to get federal funding to complete the project.
President Donald Trump’s team included Union Station in a list of prospective projects for the Republican’s yet-to-be-announced federal infrastructure program. According to the plan, the Union Station redevelopment will cost an estimated $1 billion and create roughly 1,000 direct jobs.
Another project put forth in Trump's plan would modernize North Side CTA Lines. That prospective project would cost an estimated $2.1 billion and create 2,100 jobs.