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H.R. 3122: Cleaning Up Federal Construction Projects



Cleaning up the Flyover

October 26, 2011

Earlier this month, construction began on the "Englewood Flyover." Aimed at solving one of the region's worst rail bottlenecks, this $133 million bridge construction project, funded largely by federal transportation dollars, will reduce railroad congestion on Chicago's South Side by carrying three Metra tracks over four freight tracks.

The Englewood Flyover project is vitally important; as Senator Durbin said at the groundbreaking, when freight traffic and passenger traffic can move through Chicago more quickly, it means more jobs: "Not just the jobs in building this project but the reputation of Illinois as the crossroads of the nation."

We agree. It also means several years of more soot emissions from dirty, outdated diesel construction equipment.

Those engines must be cleaned up. Why? Diesel pollution is associated with numerous adverse health effects, including lung cancer, asthma attacks, heart attacks, stroke, and premature death.

Fortunately, solutions exist. Diesel particulate filters can eliminate over 90 percent of the dangerous soot from a diesel engine. And Cook County government, the Illinois DOT, and O'Hare Airport already require cleaner diesel equipment on construction projects. The Feds should follow suit.

Representative Richard Hanna, R-NY, and Representative Donna Edwards, D- MD, introduced the Clean Construction Act of 2011 earlier this month. Their bipartisan bill, H.R. 3122, is a companion to the Senate Clean Construction Act of 2011 introduced by Senator Carper in May. It seeks to improve air quality by making it easier and more cost-effective to upgrade construction equipment to meet diesel soot emissions standards.

We urge the entire Illinois House delegation to support this H.R. 3122. As the Associated General Contractors of America maintain, the bill will improve air quality without harming contractors or putting people out of work.

-- Jonathan Doster, Citizen Action/Illinois

* Photo courtesy of USDOT