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July 27, 2020 1:30 PM, EDT

Illinois Leaders Unveil $21.3 Billion Infrastructure Plan

I-255 in IllinoisI-255 in Illinois by Illinois Department of Transportation via Flickr

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Illinois Gov. Jay “J.B.” Pritzker recently announced a $21.3 billion plan to improve roads and bridges throughout the state.

The Proposed Highway Improvement Program, also known as the Multi-Year Plan, takes into account fiscal years 2021-26.

Pritzker joined state government representatives and elected officials at a ceremony in St. Clair County on July 21 to unveil the plan.

The objective is to improve 3,356 miles of roadway and 8.4 million square feet of bridge deck. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, 9% of Illinois’ bridges are classified as structurally deficient.

Of the $21.3 billion included in the program, $3.15 billion has been identified for the current fiscal year. The program also allocates funds for local government projects, including $42 million for upgrading local truck routes.

“Illinois remains a hub of commerce and transit, and not just for this nation, but for the entire global economy,” Pritzker said during the ceremony. “We’re the fifth-largest economy in the United States, and the crossroads for national and international companies who need our roads and our airports and our rail and rivers and our people to move their products. Even in a pandemic, especially in a pandemic, our transportation systems connect the lives of our residents and our communities.”

J.B. Pritzker

Pritzker

One goal of the program is to repair and replace infrastructure before it severely deteriorates. Through this approach, the administration is trying to extend the lives of roads and bridges before they fall into states of costly disrepair.

Projects are selected on the basis of criteria such as pavement conditions, traffic volumes and crash history. Over the course of the program, $16.6 billion will be set aside for projects meant to improve and maintain the state highway system. Of that figure, $6.1 billion will be dedicated to road reconstruction and preservation, $4.7 billion to bridge improvements, $2.6 billion to expansion efforts, $1.8 billion to system support, such as engineering and land acquisition, and $1.4 billion to safety projects and system modernizations.

The program is intended to create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next six years, which officials noted will be important as Illinois recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we are not cutting or delaying projects at this time, we will continue monitoring the impact on future revenue to ensure we are investing taxpayers’ resources wisely,” Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said. “Clearly, COVID-19 is not going to be something that lasts for a few months but [will] likely impact our decision-making for years to come.”

The investment made in the Proposed Highway Improvement Program was made possible through Rebuild Illinois, a $45 billion infrastructure improvement initiative approved in 2019 that is meant to fund investment in roads, bridges, transit, education, state parks, historic sites and clean water infrastructure.

Illinois-2021-2026 MYP Inte... by Transport Topics on Scribd

Under Rebuild Illinois, the state’s fuel tax rate doubled to 38 cents per gallon for diesel and gas from 19 cents per gallon.

In May, Rebuild Illinois sustained funding for the Fast-Track Public Infrastructure Grants, which are designed to restore key public works projects that may have been canceled due to lack of funding and help skilled laborers return to work.

Pritzker and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity representatives announced that $25 million would be used to accelerate projects through this program.

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