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updated: 4/29/2014 10:50 AM

Stronger infrastructure will boost economy

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What drives the economy in Illinois? A better question is: what makes sure our economy can move forward every day? The answer is a strong infrastructure that includes roads, bridges, transit options and accompanying utilities. The 2014 ASCE report card grade, on Illinois infrastructure, is at an overall C-­. Roads, transit and sewers received a D+. It is time to pay closer attention to what is needed to keep our infrastructure strong.

The Transportation for Illinois Coalition knows what is at stake here. TFIC recently released a legislative proposal in Springfield that calls for putting $1.8 billion a year into our transportation network. This includes short-term projects that can be paid as they are built and bigger projects that will take years to complete.

We are at a critical point with our infrastructure. Think of all the potholes you hit now. The system is currently considered 85 percent acceptable. Without funding the road system will be 65 percent acceptable in a few years. That is not acceptable to me and it shouldn't be to you!

TFIC's plan would make sure our roads are in 90 percent acceptable condition and bridges at 93 percent. Our transit systems get dedicated funding for the first time and local roads their first influx of cash since 1999. It would be paid for smartly with a combination of sources tied to driver activity. This means we all share a bit of the burden to keep everyone going to work, home and play safely and on time.

We owe the bill to fix our roads and bridges whether it is now or later with much greater expense. I am asking my legislators to support the TFIC proposal and ask that you do the same.

Michael Wiedmaier

Executive director

Underground Contractors Association of Illinois

Itasca

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