Congresswoman Robin Kelly recently announced the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation has been awarded a $60,700 federal grant to plan an applied research center for testing new technologies that will improve freight movements by creating “smart roads” throughout the south suburban region.
One of the center’s initiatives will be to create a strategy to prepare and digitally equip key south suburban roadways to move automated freight vehicles. The logistics technology is expected to attract manufacturing and transportation businesses to “smart roads” equipped with digitized guidance technology, further expanding the region’s already booming intermodal industry. Digitally synced roadways guiding self-driving trucks can be operational within the next five to ten years, according to local experts.
“My office wholeheartedly supported this initiative because it will position our region ahead of the dynamic changes emerging in 21st Century transportation. Once our roadways are digitized to move automated vehicles, we will draw more industries to our intermodal facilities and accelerate their growth,” Rep. Kelly said. “This long-term modernization strategy is key to expanding and strengthening the regional economy.”
The project, named Chicago Southland Center for Smart Logistics, will create jobs and benefit key intermodal freight terminals in Dolton, Harvey and throughout Will County.
“The Southland Center for Smart Logistics will play an important role in making freight movements safer, cleaner, and more efficient,” said Reggie Greenwood, director of Economic Development for the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation. “Its location in the South Suburbs will make our region a magnet for companies that want to use smart freight technologies, creating investments and good jobs in our communities.”
The grant, from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, will be matched with funds from Cook County and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The Neighborhood Technology Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago Urban Transportation Center are collaborating on the study with the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation serving as the lead organization.