The global COVID-19 pandemic is shining a light on the strength of the people in our region – from essential workers to first responders to those of us who are staying at home to do our part. However, it is also exposing underlying problems in our region in ways we haven’t seen before.
For example, it’s not a coincidence that minorities, often the essential workers, make up 70% of COVID-19 deaths in Chicago. The region’s long-range plan, ON TO 2050, identified economically disconnected areas, communities left behind and lacking investment, as being directly tied to lower health outcomes. Without intentional investment and reinvestment strategies these areas will continue to be left behind.
As we start to prepare for a new normal, this provides an opportunity for us to intentionally shape our region’s future, rather than let it shape us. If we are truly #inthistogether we must capitalize on this opportunity to double down on the goals we have set as a region – inclusive growth, resiliency and prioritized investment.
Our local leaders have stood strong through this unfolding crisis. However, transportation, housing, public health, climate, water, and our economic future stretches beyond municipal boundaries. As a regional convener, CMAP will continue to support local governments to meet our region’s most pressing needs.
This is our once in a lifetime opportunity to come back stronger. As I look to what the future could hold, I am reminded of our region’s history. Renowned urban designer Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago provided much of the structure we have come to know and love – from the free and open lakefront, to the boulevards and forest preserves. Now is the time to hone our planning skills, to redefine a 21st century transportation system, protect our natural resources and climate, and grow our economy for the next century.
After all, addressing the region’s biggest challenges is what the ON TO 2050 plan was built on.
Erin Aleman, CMAP executive director
We start today by providing you information on the federal legislation recently passed, data on the impacts to our transportation system, and its effects on anticipated revenues. We will be bringing you more information and analysis to help shape decision making in the weeks to come.