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Illinois Gov. Jay “J.B.” Pritzker recently announced $250 million in grants to support local transportation projects.
Pritzker announced the grants, which are directed to counties, municipalities and townships, in DeKalb County on March 11. DeKalb is about 65 miles west of Chicago.
The funds were provided through Rebuild Illinois, an infrastructure improvement initiative approved in 2019 that is meant to support investment in roads, bridges, transit, education, state parks, historic sites and clean water infrastructure.
Along with improving safety and quality of life for residents, the grants are meant to spur economic development and create jobs.
It’s local projects that are rejuvenating our communities in ways our people deserve.
Illinois Gov. Jay "J.B." Pritzker
“While I’m proud of the transformation of our interstate highways Rebuild Illinois is rebuilding, it’s local projects that are rejuvenating our communities in ways our people deserve,” Pritzker said. “Funding from Rebuild Illinois allows local governments to reallocate precious dollars for other parts of the community. And with the strain on local budgets because of the pandemic, that means critical savings for local governments and taxpayers.”
Rebuild Illinois set aside $1.5 billion for municipal, town and county projects. The funding is being distributed to local government agencies in six installments over three years.
Using the funds, recipients can conduct projects to improve roads and bridges, traffic signals, storm sewers, bicycle paths, sidewalks and other long-term maintenance needs. Projects will be selected and managed locally, and IDOT will maintain oversight.
“The responsibility of being the country’s transportation hub means having safe, reliable infrastructure in our cities, neighborhoods and rural areas,” Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said. “This funding will go a long way toward meeting that goal.”
The Rebuild Illinois funding is distributed in addition to regular contributions through the state’s motor fuel tax formula, which already has dedicated $567 million to local governments during this fiscal year.
Illinois current fuel tax rates are 38.7 cents per gallon for gasoline and 46.2 cents per gallon for diesel. The fuel tax rate doubled in 2019 as part of Rebuild Illinois.
“Access to a robust transportation network makes it possible for new jobs and projects to come to cities and towns across Illinois,” said Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon). “Today’s investment is made possible by a historic capital bill that provided new transportation funding and made Illinois more economically competitive. We’re already seeing many positive results from that legislation here in DeKalb County.”
As part of its Proposed Highway Improvement Program, IDOT is investing $21.3 billion in improving roads and bridges. Of that figure, $4.7 billion is meant for the local transportation system. Also known as the Multi-Year Plan, the Proposed Highway Improvement Program was released in July and takes into account fiscal years 2021-26.
According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, 9% of Illinois’ bridges are classified as structurally deficient.
Stimulating the economy and putting Illinoisans to work has been a common theme among the state’s transportation programs. The Proposed Highway Improvement Program is intended to create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next six years.
Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity also recently announced a job-training program. Developed in partnership with the Association for Supply Chain Management, the program targets those who have become unemployed or underemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program also is designed to help Illinois residents embrace the growth of e-commerce, shipping and logistics in the state.
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