February 24, 2021
Yesterday, February 23, 2021, Epstein’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) group held its first event of 2021, a virtual presentation outlining the inequities in Chicago and the surrounding counties transportation infrastructure and how that has disproportionately affected certain groups in our local community.
Presented by DEI members Samantha Schneider (Architecture), Jenny Kuether (MEP Engineering) and Jonathan Zambrano (DesignBuild), this event covered wide-ranging topics like how access to public transportation in "Chicagoland" has a direct impact on access to education, job opportunities, healthcare and vaccinations, good food as well as disproportionally impacts women and black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) and individuals with disabilities.
In addition, the presenters provided some current Chicago-area equitable solutions to these inequities through programs that prioritize and enhance access to rail, extension of CTA lines, as well as publicly-funded reduced fare programs that target under-accessed neighborhoods.
The presentation team also gave great examples of how designers and engineers can help create more equitable transportation solutions by ensuring that people come first and not the space, that these spaces encourage BIPOC communal ownership, that planners, designers and engineers focus on system changes over individual changes and, lastly, BIPOC, women and individuals with disabilities are directly involved in the decision making process.
This part of the presentation is one where Epstein is currently actively making those types of efforts through projects like an All Station Accessibility Program effort at the Austin Station on the CTA’s Lake Line, a project whose focus is to improve the station’s accessibility, including the installation of a new elevator, sidewalk ramp, interior stationhouse ramp, and an accessible customer agent kiosk. In addition, Epstein’s urban planners and engineers are also working on a nearly 2-mile long roadway project for the City of Evanston in which infrastructure is being improved for this corridor to become more suitable/equitable for roadway users of all ages and abilities.
Thanks go out to Samantha, Jenny and Jonathan for this very informative presentation as well as showing how firms like Epstein can make a positive impact improving lives across the region.