Tuesday, July 17, 2012

METRA Approves $141 Million Flyover Contract With Increased MBE Quota

METRA’s board yesterday approved award of the construction contract for the $141 million Englewood flyover project to reduce freight train conflicts with commuter rail operations on Chicago’s south side, after three Congressmen withdrew their objections to limited minority employment in connection with the construction. The Congressmen, led by First District Democrat Bobby Rush, pulled back their resistance based on agreement by IHC Construction/Illinois Constructors, the winning bidder, to increase MBE participation from the contractually required 25% up to 40%.

Though details of the MBE increase remain undisclosed, it is unclear how more MBE subcontracting can significantly increase the number of jobs for workers living in the predominantly black Englewood neighborhood. There is no way to guarantee that the black owned businesses in the neighborhood can find the increased number of skilled minority tradespeople the Congressmen want, living in Englewood. As construction on this project proceeds, it will be very interesting to learn whether the certified payrolls of the participating MBE subcontractors actually include increased numbers of workers with Englewood ZIP codes.

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