Road program focuses on maintenance, congestion relief
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And Marni Pyke
SPRINGFIELD ó Gov. Pat Quinn's latest six-year, $12.62 billion transportation construction program is big on maintaining existing roads while short on new significant projects in the metropolitan region.
Among the spending highlights released Wednesday are $475 million to fix the congested Circle Interchange in Chicago and $72 million to buy land for the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway extension, which is being built by the Illinois tollway.
For commuters tired of congested local roads, improvements are on the distant horizon for Route 14 in McHenry County and Lake Zurich Road in Lake County, while South Elgin should gain a new train station as part of a $60 million effort to re-establish passenger rail service with at least one round-trip a day between Chicago and Dubuque.
The Elgin-O'Hare project "is crucial not only to easing commuters' daily lives, but to keep our economy moving forward by opening up the area for increased business activity," said state Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat.
The legislature still must approve the Illinois Department of Transportation budget for the year, and projects further in the future could be subject to lawmakers finding money for a more comprehensive construction plan.
At a news conference Wednesday, Quinn called the Circle Interchange, where the Kennedy, Dan Ryan and Eisenhower expressways converge, "a spaghetti bowl that's been around 50 to 60 years."
Quinn also noted that 71 percent of the money will go to maintaining the current transportation system, 20 percent will address traffic congestion issues and 9 percent will be dedicated to adding new lanes and roads.
Some of the major local road projects in the 2014 to 2019 cycle include:
• $27 million for a new elevated bridge at the Kennedy Expressway and Cumberland Avenue.
• $9.6 million for resurfacing on Route 14 and Rand Road in Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect and Des Plaines.
• $13 million for ramp modifications and engineering at Lake Street and Route 59 in Bartlett.
• $11 million for bridge replacement at Rand Road and the Des Plaines River in Des Plaines.
• $13 million for reconstruction and new signals on Wolf Road in Wheeling.
• $20 million for bridge replacement and engineering on I-290 at Salt Creek in Addison.
• $17 million for intersection reconstruction at Butterfield Road and Route 53 near Wheaton.
• $11 million for bridge replacement at Route 56 and Hankes Road in Kane County.
• $4 million for resurfacing on Route 25 in Wayne, St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia.
• $4.4 million for resurfacing on Route 38 in St. Charles and Geneva.
• $41 million for additional lanes on Lake Zurich Road in Kildeer and Long Grove.
• $20 million for bridge replacement and improvements on Grand Avenue and Skokie Highway in Gurnee.
• $52 million for additional lanes on Route 14 in Crystal Lake and Woodstock.
• Numerous improvements to Route 47 in Kane and McHenry counties.
Quinn's plan includes $1.8 billion for public transportation; however, at a Regional Transportation Authority meeting Wednesday, officials worried the government wouldn't meet its obligations.
Executive Director Joe Costello noted that the state still owes the RTA, which distributes sales tax revenues to the CTA, Pace and Metra, about $360 million.
"The last time they paid us was on Christmas Eve," Costello said, adding the agency will likely borrow to bridge the shortfall. "We're urging them not to stretch us beyond our limits."
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