SPRINGFIELD — On August 12, the Illinois Department of Transportation released a six-year, $34.6 billion spending plan to maintain roads, bridges, public transit, railroads, airports and ports.
It’s the latest multi-year plan backed by the state’s 2019 bipartisan Rebuild Illinois Infrastructure Act, which doubled the state’s fuel tax from 19 to 38 cents per gallon and scheduled it to increase with the rate of inflation. The measure also increased driving fees, redirected a portion of the state fuel sales tax to the road fund, and authorized borrowing to pay for construction projects.
“A little over three years ago, I signed on to our historic bipartisan infrastructure program,” Governor JB Pritzker said at a press conference at the IDOT Building in Springfield. “And since then, Rebuild Illinois has undertaken a massive transformation of our state’s transportation systems.”
About $8.6 billion has already been spent in the first three years of Illinois’ rebuilding plan on road and bridge projects, including more than $6.4 billion on the Illinois transportation system. state and more than $2.1 billion on local systems.
That’s a slower pace than projected in the six-year, $33.2 billion spending plan adopted in 2019. But IDOT secretary Omer Osman said he hopes the pace picks up. would accelerate as several major projects move beyond the initial engineering phase.
IDOT has expanded its engineering staff, and lawmakers this year approved a “design-build” process in Senate Bill 2981 to combine design and build in a more competitive bidding process. effective, which could also speed things up, he said.
“We are aggressively, aggressively pushing all of these projects across the state,” he said.
The highway portion of the multi-year plan — a filing required each year for the state transportation agency — accounts for $24.6 billion of planned spending. Of this amount, $13.3 billion, or 54%, is funded by the federal government, just over $6 billion comes from state funding, $4.1 billion comes from bond proceeds and $1.2 billion comes from local refunds.
The current fiscal year, which began July 1, is expected to see $3.7 billion in new construction under the roads and bridges plan.
Nearly $10 billion more in combined state, federal, local, and private sector spending went to public transit, shipping, railroads, and airports. Of this amount, 59% was state expenditure and 31% by the federal government.
Projects in this plan range from building a high-speed rail between St. Louis and Chicago to upgrading airports to supporting major port renovations at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers near Cairo in the south. from Illinois.
Highway projects are underway in all nine IDOT districts in the state, ranging from a $54 million interchange reconstruction, replacement and repair of a bridge on Interstate 80 in Will County , to $100.3 million for improvements on Interstate 24 from Metropolis to Interstate 57 in Massac, Johnson and Williamson counties.
“The renovation of nearly 4,500 miles of freeway and more than 400 bridges has already been completed, and virtually every Illinois resident can see and feel the results in real time,” Pritzker said.
The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law by President Joe Biden last year allowed Illinois to expand its $4 billion, multi-year plan, Osman said.
The fact that Illinois had an infrastructure plan when the federal law was passed, Pritzker said, made the state better equipped to take advantage of federal matching funding, which provides an 80% federal match for infrastructure. State investment of 20% of the costs of certain projects. .
“Because we were successful in rebuilding Illinois two and a half years before the (federal law) was passed, we’re actually ready to go, we have the resources available,” Pritzker said. “There are a lot of other states that have to come up with those dollars, don’t know where they’re going to come from. And so we’re really able to do a lot more, a lot faster.
The plan to rebuild Illinois passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in Pritzker’s first year as governor, marking the state’s first capital infrastructure plan in nearly a decade.
Lawmakers on both sides have hailed it as a trailblazer for its automatic fuel tax hike, raising electric vehicle registration rates and allowing bonds to pay for construction.
The fuel tax and fee increase, contained in the 1939 Senate bill, passed 48 to 9 in the Senate and 83 to 29 in the House. The spending plan, contained in House Bill 62, passed 95-18 in the House and 53-6 in the Senate. The bond authority measure, contained in House Bill 142, passed 94-20 in the House and 53-6 in the Senate.
A legislator voting against all three parts of the plan was then the representative. Darren Bailey, Republican Xenia and current state senator who is challenging Pritzker in the 2022 race for governor.
Bailey has frequently criticized the fuel tax increase, successfully using it as a means of attack against opponents in the Republican primary. But he did not come up with his own infrastructure financing plan.
Asked about the infrastructure plan and potential alternatives on Friday, Bailey’s team released a statement.
“JB Prtizker’s gas tax hike gave Illinois the second highest gas tax in the nation and some of the highest gas prices. It’s just not affordable,” spokesman Joe DeBose said in a statement. “48 states are able to build their transportation infrastructure with lower gas taxes than Illinois. We can do better with zero-based budgeting and reprioritization of spending, but not with JB Pritzker in charge.
Osman, who has worked at IDOT for more than 30 years and became its director under Pritzker, said the increased fuel tax means infrastructure improvements can continue beyond the initial lifespan. of six years from Rebuild Illinois.
“We’re number three in the nation in interstate land mileage, and that’s a big statement to make,” he said. “Our system is complex, and we need this sustainable funding as we move beyond six years, that’s for sure.”
About $6.1 billion in funding will be allocated to local and state highways in the Chicagoland area.
The major local projects of interest provisionally planned for the period 2023-2028 include:
- Interstate 90/94 to Interstate 290/Congress Parkway (Jane Byrne Interchange)
- The Jane Byrne interchange has been identified as one of the country’s worst freight bottlenecks.
- Landscaping, miscellaneous work and construction engineering are estimated at $6.8 million.
- Interstate 90/94 from Interstate 94 (Edens Expressway) to Hubbard Street
- Bridge deck overlays, bridge joint replacements and repairs, and additional construction work are expected to cost $61.8 million.
- Interstate 290 at Laramie Avenue
- Replacement of the bridge, construction of the retaining wall and additional engineering would cost $23.5 million.
- Interstate 290 at Western Avenue
- Replacement of the bridge superstructure, engineering design and environmental studies are estimated at $16.5 million.
- Interstate 290 at Ogden Avenue
- Replacement of the bridge and additional engineering would cost $21.6 million.
- 95th Street at Stony Island Avenue
- Several bridge replacements, replacement of railroad dividers, reconstruction of intersections and additional engineering work are expected to cost $81.7 million.
- Ida B Wells Drive to Old Post Office
- The replacement, rehabilitation and additional construction of the bridge superstructure would cost $24.9 million.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government, funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
Herald staff contributed to the report.