While legislators have been working in their home districts these last few weeks, committee hearings and other meetings have continued to take place around the state. During this time I have attended several meetings, including the House Sexual Discrimination & Harassment Task Force and the Rules Committee.

I’m shown here at a March 13 meeting of the Sexual Discrimination & Harassment Task Force, where we are continuing our series of hearings. On this date we heard testimony from representatives of the City of Chicago and the Attorney General’s office. Lawmakers return to Springfield on Monday April 9. We will spend much of that week in committee hearings since Friday, April 13 is the deadline by which all House Bills must have cleared a substantive committee. As always, I will continue to provide updates about the progress of my legislation and other key bills that affect Illinoisans.

Launch of New Positive Train Control (PTC) Safety System Prompts Revision of BNSF Schedule

Metra’s BNSF Line between Aurora and Chicago Union Station will be the first Metra line to have the new federally-mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) safety system fully operational. Riders should be aware that the enhancement will require a significant revision of the line’s schedule starting this summer.

There are about 30 instances on the existing BNSF schedule in which a train completes a run and turns around to start a new one in less than 10 minutes. In addition to the tasks currently performed between each train run, the engineer will now be required to initialize the PTC system. This new task will extend the time needed to turn the train by five to six minutes, and the existing schedules must be adjusted to accommodate this time. In addition to adjusting for PTC, other schedule changes are being proposed to relieve overcrowding on some of the busiest trains, match the schedule to actual operating conditions and reduce congestion at a choke point on the line near Cicero. As a result, the proposed schedule also includes numerous minor changes to total running times and station stop patterns. There will be no changes to the weekend train schedules at this time.

Copies of the proposed schedule can be found on Metra’s website. Hard copies are also available on trains and at Chicago Union Station. Customer feedback will be accepted via email at BNSFservice2018@metrarr.com until April 15. Metra may revise the proposal based on feedback, with a goal of implementing the new schedule in June or July. More details on the schedule change can be found here. Additional information about PTC, including videos about the project and the schedule change, can be found here.

DuPage County Ranked #1 Healthiest County in IL
Congratulations to DuPage County for being named the #1 healthiest County in the State of Illinois! The 2018 County Health Rankings was released last week and lists DuPage as number one among the 102 counties in the state. DuPage County was ranked #5 last year. The last time DuPage County was ranked #1 on this list was in 2016. The annual rankings are created through a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, and compares counties within each of the 50 states on more than 30 factors that affect health, including economics, education, jobs, housing, exercise, access to screenings and commuting times.  Click here to learn more.

Olsen Attends Groundbreaking for School Improvement in District 58

Last week I was honored to join officials from Downers Grove Grade School District 58 as they broke ground on an addition to Lester Elementary School. I was glad to celebrate this future enhancement for student learning with Superintendent Kari Cremasscoli, Lester Principal Carin Novak, Assistant Principal Katie Novosel, District 58 Board Members Darren Hughes, Greg Harris, and John Miller, and Assistant Superintendent David Bein.

Education Town Hall Scheduled for April 5
Please join me on Thursday, April 5 when I will partner with State Senator John F. Curran and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for a Town Hall Meeting that focuses on the assessments used in Illinois public schools, including PARCC and SAT. The event will take place at the Downers Grove Park District’s Lincoln Center, 935 Maple Avenue, Downers Grove, from 7:00 PM until 8:00 PM. Representatives from ISBE will present about assessments and a question and answer period will follow. RSVPs are requested for this event. If you plan to attend, please RSVP at my office at (630) 737-0504.

Coffee & Conversation Tour Continues on April 4
Senator John F. Curran, Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully and I had a great turnout for our first Coffee & Conversation event two weeks ago. A second event has been scheduled for Wednesday, April 4 from 6:00 PM until 7:00 PM at Blueberry Hill Breakfast Café, 7340 IL Route 83 in Darien. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin will also be joining us for the event, so please stop by, say hello, and let us know about issues that are important to you.

Olsen Welcomes New Businesses to the 81st District

During the last few weeks I was able to attend two ribbon cuttings for new businesses in the 81st District. I always enjoy joining my friends from Chamber630 as we welcome new business owners to the area. I am shown in the photo above at the ribbon cutting for the new M/I Homes, Inc. Woodview townhome development in Woodridge, and in the other photo we welcomed Outback Steakhouse to their newest location in Downers Grove. Businesses recognize the western suburbs as a great place to do business and we welcome them to the area!

Finishing Touches Take Place at the Burlington Station

I recently joined Downers Grove Mayor Pro Tem Bill White for a “topping off” ceremony at the Burlington Station development at Forest and Burlington in Downers Grove. We signed the final steel beam before it was placed at the top of the building. The building is looking great and is a wonderful addition to the area. It is scheduled to be completed later this year.

Olsen Speaks to Downers Grove North and South Students at Attainable Futures Event

On March 13 I spoke with a group of students from Downers Grove North and South High Schools who participated in the Chamber630 Attainable Futures Program. We discussed the importance of public service in any career path. I’m always impressed by their insightful questions and look forward to seeing great things from these young leaders. The Attainable Futures Program addresses work readiness for high school students, assisting them in career paths, application completion, business etiquette, interview techniques and other important areas that prepare high schools students for careers after high school.

David S. Olsen