IL plans outreach efforts over expressway repairs

CHICAGO: The Illinois Department of Transportation is planning an aggressive community outreach program working with two Chicago PR firms to discuss ongoing reconstruction work on a major expressway.

CHICAGO: The Illinois Department of Transportation is planning an aggressive community outreach program working with two Chicago PR firms to discuss ongoing reconstruction work on a major expressway.

Cushman/Amberg is handling media relations and marketing communications on the project, while Danielle Ashley Advertising and Public Relations is handling a grassroots campaign.

PR spending with the firms is expected to be $2 million over a three-year period.

The campaign comes as the department has received some negative press for disbanding a community task force that it had been using to gather local opinions on the rebuilding of the Dan Ryan Expressway, which runs south from Chicago?s central business district.

Kim Morreale, public information manager for IDOT, said the new campaign came about because of the task force?s work. The panel was scheduled to disband after making recommendations to IDOT, she said.

The two agencies were actually hired last November, but they now will intensify efforts, Morreale said.

Also planned are vendor fairs so that minority-owned businesses and others can get information about doing business with the state.

One issue that arose with the task force was plans to remove some of the entrance and exit ramps on the expressway. The Dan Ryan passes through black neighborhoods and the removal of ramps in those areas has raised several objections.

Morreale said the new grassroots PR efforts will seek to explain ramp plans more clearly and answer community concerns. The department has cut back on the number of ramps it plans to remove.

Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2007.

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