Plans for I-55 Expansion in Chicago Raise Concerns Over Community Health

"Environmental advocates and community groups already exposed to high levels of air pollution fear that additional lanes will exacerbate health risks in Southwest Side neighborhoods."

"Having spent most of her life in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, Sara Cortes learned to live with bad-smelling air that created a haze in the summer.

About a year ago, Cortes, 38, was diagnosed with an untreatable lung condition that makes her tired and leaves her short of breath.

So she was shocked when she learned of a fast-moving plan in Springfield to expand the nearby Stevenson Expressway, part of Interstate 55, with additional lanes, bringing more traffic and more pollution.

“It’s definitely a concern for me,” said Cortes. “The air quality in Little Village has been bad for a long time.”

Introduced at the tail end of the Illinois legislative session, a pair of measures that promote private funding of road projects are moving through quickly as state lawmakers try to wrap up their session this week. One is a resolution that would allow state transportation officials to find private funding for the Stevenson expansion, which runs through Little Village and other communities, and it is in the Senate after moving quickly through the House Chamber. The other is an even more expansive rewriting of rules to encourage private dollars for state transportation projects, which was added as an amendment to a large spending bill on Friday."

Aydali Campa and Brett Chase report for the Chicago Sun-Times May 23, 2023.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, 05/24/2023