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We need a new approach to solving old problems.  Just one example of this approach is my plan to develop the “Adopt A Viaduct” program that will help us clean up and repair the viaducts and bridges in the 11th Ward.

 The 11th Ward is home to more than 25 bridges and viaducts, which represents at least ten percent of the City’s total.

 The railroads whose trains travel over our bridges and viaducts are responsible for their structural integrity.  It is the City’s job to maintain the sidewalks, lighting and roads in and around the viaducts.  We need to make sure the City is living up to its commitment to keeping these structures clean and safe.  Too many of these structures have fallen into a state of disrepair or have not been adequately cleaned or painted for several years.  If we simply do nothing, these structures will continue to crumble, creating safety concerns and eyesores in our neighborhoods.

 If elected alderman of the 11th Ward, I will facilitate partnerships between local government, the railroads and nearby businesses to repair, clean and beautify the viaducts in our ward most in need of improvement.

 Here’s how my Adopt A Viaduct plan would work:

 1) Work with the railroads and City departments to conduct a needs assessment for each of the Ward’s bridges and viaducts.   This assessment will examine what structural improvements need to be made, whether lighting is adequate and whether sidewalk and roadway improvements are feasible.

2) Solicit local businesses to “adopt” the viaducts.   These businesses would underwrite an initial clean-up effort, which would include power washing the structures, and subsequent cleanings on bi-annual or as-needed basis. In order to acknowledge their commitment to improving our community, participating businesses will be recognized via signage at each location.

 3) Seek out local artists who could use the walls and structures to create murals or other colorful displays that reflect the rich culture and diversity of our ward.

 I have already had conversations with several local businesses about being charter members of this initiative and the idea has been well received.

 This is not an easy fix. It will require plenty of hard work to align all the resources in the right way.  But it is a project worth pursuing because it delivers such a great benefit to our ward at minimal cost to taxpayers.

 The Adopt A Viaduct initiative is just one example of how I plan to bring people together to tackle local challenges, put people to work, showcase local artistic talent and make the 11th Ward a more livable place.

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