Illinois transportation needs pegged at $8.8 billion a year

Recent report shows Illinois needs to spend nearly $9 billion a year, for the next five years, to keep up with the state's transportation needs

News AASHTO Journal February 15, 2007
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A coalition of Illinois business and labor groups released a report last week stating that Illinois needs to spend nearly $9 billion a year, for the next five years, to keep up with the needs of the state's highway and transit systems, Crain's Chicago Business reported.

The report released by the Transportation for Illinois Coalition is expected to be used to support a lobbying effort in support of transportation investment. State lawmakers were to be among the first to see the study. It concludes that the state faces $238 billion in capital costs for transportation over the next three decades, and that the most urgent needs should be addressed within five years at a cost of $8.8 billion a year.

"The objective is make them aware that the state has put no new money into transportation for a long time," said Doug Whitley, president of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, joined in the coalition by the state AFL-CIO. Though the report does not propose specific funding sources, it acknowledges that tax or fee increases would be needed.

The state's most recent infrastructure-financing program, known as "Illinois First," was paid for through bonding. The bonds were backed by increases in state vehicle license fees and higher taxes on liquor.

Of the $8.8 billion a year the report recommends spending in the next five years, $6 billion per year would be for roadways and bridges, $2.4 million would go to transit, and $286 million a year would support the Chicago Regional Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) project, aimed at alleviating rail bottlenecks in the Chicago area.

CREATE is a federal/railroad/state/city-funded project totaling $1.5, to alleviate rail-freight delays and eliminate many railroad grade crossings. The state has pledged $100 million to the first phase of the project, but so far has not handed across the funds.

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