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updated: 4/8/2011 7:20 AM

IDOT sticks to basics in new road plan

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  • Ambitious projects such as the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway extension and western bypass or Illiana Expressway will remain on paper until cash is found.

       Ambitious projects such as the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway extension and western bypass or Illiana Expressway will remain on paper until cash is found.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

The state will fix its roads and bridges this year, but ambitious projects such as the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway extension and western bypass or Illiana Expressway will remain on paper until cash is found.

The Illinois Department of Transportation unveiled an $11.5 billion construction program from fiscal years 2012 through 2017 Thursday that's big on maintenance and repairs.

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The plan is one of the largest in the state's history but reflects uncertainty about when the federal government will approve a new surface transportation bill and the funding that would come with it.

"We do have projects we want to do and there's not an immediate revenue stream," IDOT Secretary Gary Hannig said.

About $3.5 billion of the money is slated to reconstruct and improve existing roads, while nearly $2 billion is set aside to repair bridges. Only $774 million will be used for new roads.

IDOT is trying to nail down funding for the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway extension and western bypass around the airport, which when fully completed would cost $3.6 billion. A scaled down design the state is focusing on now costs $2.2 billion. Recent plans list four funding options, all of which include instituting tolls on the existing expressway between Itasca and Hanover Park and on segments of the new construction.

"We're trying to be open-minded and look at every possibility. We don't want to leave anything on the table," Hannig said.

The state also is looking for private partners to help pay for another massive project -- the Illiana Expressway linking I-55 in Will County with I-65 in northwest Indiana.

IDOT's previous 2011 to 2016 transportation plan was for $12.8 billion.

This year's program splits revenues, with 45 percent going to Chicago and the suburbs and 55 percent destined for downstate. More than $5 billion is allocated for Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.

Most of the funding -- $7.2 billion -- comes from the federal government. About $2 billion stems from the state's 2009 $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now capital program, paid for with liquor taxes, vehicle fees and future video gaming revenue. The Jobs Now program faces a lawsuit before the Illinois Supreme Court.

"We are moving forward with the program full-speed ahead," Hannig said. "Our belief is the courts will rule in our favor."

The state's fiscal year start July 1. About 155,000 jobs will be created from the multiyear program.

Here's a look at some regional projects.

• Rebuilding I-190 between Bessie Coleman Drive and I-90 near O'Hare International Airport for $400 million. Includes adding lanes on Mannheim Road between Irving Park and Higgins roads and extending Balmoral Avenue in Rosemont.

• Reconstruction and more lanes on I-94/U.S. Route 41 between Wisconsin and Route 173 for $52 million.

• Bridge reconstruction at I-55 and Central Avenue near Midway International Airport for $44.7 million.

• Realignment of Route 31 to bypass Algonquin at a cost of $55 million.

• A railroad grade separation at Roosevelt Road and the Union Pacific tracks in Geneva for $38 million.

• Interchange reconstruction at I-90 and Route 47 in Huntley for $17.4 million.

• Adding lanes on Route 53 from North Avenue to St. Charles Road costing $17 million.

• Adding lanes on Route 59 from Ferry Road to Aurora Avenue in Naperville for $97 million.

• Reconstruction and extra lanes on North Avenue near Kautz Road in St. Charles for $54 million.

• Reconstruction of the Lake Street and McLean Boulevard intersection in Elgin for $46 million.

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