Durbin, Lightfoot, Members Of Delegation Highlight How Infrastructure Bill Will Benefit Chicago's Shoreline And Lake Michigan

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, along with U.S. Representatives Bobby Rush (D-IL-01), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09), Mike Quigley (D-IL-05), Bill Foster (D-IL-11), and Robin Kelly (D-IL-02) today joined state, local, and environmental leaders at the Shedd Aquarium to discuss how new federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help protect Lake Michigan and Chicago’s shoreline. The funding, allocated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), will support two projects: $1.5 million to study expansion of the Chicago Shoreline Project to new areas impacted by rising lake levels and $225 million for the Brandon Road Project to prevent invasive Asian Carp from reaching Lake Michigan.


“The more than $200 million in federal funding we are celebrating today is a direct result of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that I and my Chicago delegation colleagues voted for. It provides historic investments in our nation’s infrastructure, including one of Chicago’s most important assets – Lake Michigan,” Durbin said. “I’ve championed both the Chicago Shoreline Protection Project and the Brandon Road Project for years, and I’m heartened by the Biden Administration’s support for these efforts. I’ll continue working with my delegation colleagues to combat climate change and protect the Great Lakes.” 


 "The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help protect Chicago's crown jewel, Lake Michigan," said Mayor Lightfoot. "The commitment we have made as a city, in addition to our partnership with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and other federal leaders, demonstrate the effort that needs to be put in place in order to repair our shoreline. I am proud of the work the City, Senator Durbin, Senator Duckworth, and our Congressional delegation have done to advocate for our shoreline as well as the Brandon Road Project, which will protect the health of the lake."


Chicago Shoreline Storm Damage Reduction Project

Last week the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allocated $1.5 million in funding from IIJA to help expand the Chicago Shoreline Project in response to climate change. The funding will support ongoing efforts to restore and protect Chicago’s lakefront by completing the General Reevaluation Report needed to expand the project to new areas of the shoreline impacted by rising lake levels.


Last month, the lawmakers sent a bicameral letter to the USACE urging them to invest in the project using funds provided in the federal infrastructure bill.


Durbin helped authorize the original Chicago Shoreline project in 1996 and secured $185 million in appropriations for the project over two decades, which reconstructed nine miles of the shoreline.  Lake Michigan has experienced record high levels, and several areas of the Chicago shoreline have experienced significant erosion, storm damage, and flooding.  The extent of the damage underscores the need for expanding the Chicago Shoreline project as a long-term solution.


“Climate change is knocking on our door, and each year our shoreline increasingly falls victim to erosion and storm damage. I’m excited that funding from President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help pave the way for expanding the Chicago Shoreline Project. We cannot neglect the South Shore in these efforts — the eight miles of shoreline on the South Side have too often been left behind in previous lakefront restoration projects,” said Congressman Rush. “I am hopeful that comprehensive, long-term solutions to protect our lakefront are closer than ever to becoming a reality.”


“Chicago’s shoreline is a defining feature of our great community, but unfortunately, severe storms and varied lake levels in recent years have caused extensive damage that needs to be addressed. I hear from my constituents who live on or near the lakefront all the time about their concerns of the storm damage and threats to their properties,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky.  “This funding is a critical step in the right direction, and the first step we need to comprehensively address the issue.  I am grateful for the efforts of the Army Corps and my colleagues at all levels of government – we all want to see our great shoreline restored and usable by all.”


“In recent years, we’ve seen the harmful effects of climate change on the Chicago shoreline. I am pleased that the Army Corps of Engineers has heeded our call to give the shoreline the priority it deserves,” said Congressman Quigley. “Our lakefront is a precious part of the community here in Chicago and this investment will make significant strides in protecting and preserving it from the inevitable toll of climate change.”


“It is imperative that we take action now to protect the Lake Michigan shoreline,” said Congresswoman Kelly. “We already know about some repairs and improvements that need to be made, but we must also prepare for the impacts of the climate crisis so that the shoreline, which is so important to South Chicago, is protected for generations to come. I am thrilled to see this funding coming to Chicago from the bipartisan infrastructure law. We are proactively protecting one of our city’s most iconic recreational and economic resources. Our communities are going to continue to benefit from more funding to come from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”


Brandon Road Project

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allocated $225.8 million from IIJA for the Brandon Road Lock and Dam Project to prevent invasive Asian Carp from reaching Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes.


Durbin, Foster, and Senator Duckworth have been tireless advocates for the Brandon Road Project and finding a comprehensive approach to the Great Lakes from the threat of invasive carp. Through previous Water Resources Development Acts, they secured authorization for design and construction of the Brandon Road Project and increased the federal cost-share for the project, bringing down the cost for Illinois taxpayers.  Durbin was also instrumental in forcing the release of the original Brandon Road Study, a draft plan that paved the way for the project, after the Trump Administration stalled the report’s release.


The project will construct a new engineered channel at Brandon Road that will be used to test and deploy a range of technologies that will prevent Asian Carp from moving further north to the Great Lakes.  The funding will allow the Corps to complete design on the project and begin construction.  Durbin previously secured $3.8 million in federal funding to begin preconstruction, design, and engineering on the project.


“The Brandon Road Lock and Dam is the last line of defense for preventing invasive Asian Carp from reaching Lake Michigan and all of the tributaries and lakes in the Great Lakes basin,” said Congressman Foster. “That’s why supporting the Brandon Road Project has always been one of my most important priorities. Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Army Corps of Engineers finally has the resources it needs to finish planning and begin construction on this critical project that will help protect Illinois waterways and the entire Great Lakes region. I’m looking forward to seeing this project come to fruition.”


“Invasive carp would devastate the Great Lakes and the region’s economy if they're allowed to reach our region. Fortifying the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, a critical chokepoint about 50 miles downstream of Chicago, gives us the best chance to stop these aggressive fish. This new funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a historic step forward for this critically needed project that will stop invasive carp from reaching Lake Michigan,” said Alliance for the Great Lakes President & CEO Joel Brammeier. “The Alliance for the Great Lakes thanks Senators Durbin, Congressman Foster, and other members of the Great Lakes congressional delegation and the Biden Administration for their strong support for this project."


“This critically needed investment will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue to protect the Great Lakes through science-driven solutions that build healthy and vibrant ecosystems for generations to come,” said Andrea Densham, senior director of government affairs and conservation policy at Shedd Aquarium. Shedd Aquarium applauds President Biden and his administration, Senator Durbin, the Illinois Congressional delegation, and their Great Lakes colleagues for their leadership to protect our Great Lakes basin, which is home to 10,000 miles of shoreline, adjacent streams and rivers, as well as the magnificent bounty of diverse aquatic wildlife – all of which are threatened by encroaching invasive species and degradation from extreme weather caused by climate change.”