Despite a delay from video gambling, road and bridge construction will still be at full tilt this summer in the state of Illinois.
Gov. Pat Quinn announced on March 25 that $486 million worth of road and bridge work will be in full swing in a few weeks. Most of the activity is being financed by the state’s $31 billion public works program, which was passed in 2009 and created by the legalization of video gambling and raises in liquor taxes and driver’s fees. Video gambling, however, did not launch until September 2012, leaving some to believe there would be a shortage of funding for the 2013 construction season. Lawmakers, however, approved $1.5 billion in additional construction spending in January.
The state also is expected to sell $800 million worth of bonds next week. Two months ago an attempt to sell $500 million worth of construction bonds was delayed due to unsettled market conditions. Illinois’ credit rating ranks last in the country, but Quinn said action in the state House on public employee pension reform should increase the chance of a bond transaction.
“We are not there yet, but that was a very significant step taken by the Illinois House of Representatives,” Quinn told the Chicago Tribune. “I think that will serve us well in the market and serve us well as a state.”
The $34 million reconstruction of the Stony Island feeder ramp to the Bishop Ford Freeway (I-94) is perhaps the biggest project ready to set sail this construction season. Work will involve the removal of seven bridges.