Governor Pat Quinn had big news to announce, but protestors drowned it out during a very rowdy press conference on Thursday.
Quinn had to shout to be heard over a group of protestors who wanted to express their dissatisfaction about the lack of money the state has invested in black communities.
Chicago Transit Authority Chairman Terry Peterson’s voice was dripping with sarcasm when he said, “As you can see we’ve got some admirers of the governor here.”
Quinn responded to his critics, one equipped with a megaphone, by pleading for civility.
“Part of government by the people is making sure that everyone has a voice,” Quinn said. “No matter what the heckling. No matter what the name-calling.”
Quinn was at the CTA Green Line's Ashland stop to announce that local mass transit agencies will receive $500 million for infrastructure improvements. More than $442 million will go to the Regional Transportation Autority. The CTA will receive $253 million, $157 will go to the Metra, and $32 million to PACE.
“We’re going to stand fast for jobs in Illinois, for making sure that everyone is heard. Everybody is included, and nobody is left out. We’re never going to yield on that principle,” said Quinn.
Bonds from the Illinois Jobs Now capital construction program will fund the $500 million. $58 million of funds will head Downstate.
The CTA plans to use the money to help replace the deteriorating viaducts on the Red Line south and Evanston Purple Line el. It will also help rebuild the 63rd and Ashland station, right where the press conference was held.
The Metra will use some of the money to buy 30 new cars for its south suburban Electric Line, and the rest to renovate some stations across the city.
Transit officials were not happy about the delay in receiving the funding. But it is a steady first step in receiving some of the $2.7 billion that Chicago-area transit will get over the next five years from the Illinois Jobs Now, authorized in the spring of 2009.
"Our mass transit systems drive Illinois' economy and we must invest in them to continue our recovery and create jobs," Quinn said.