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updated: 7/8/2014 11:14 AM

Durbin: 'A lot at stake' if road fund dries up

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  • U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said a pot of money the federal government uses to pay for road construction could go dry soon.

      U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said a pot of money the federal government uses to pay for road construction could go dry soon.
    Mike Riopell | Staff Photographer

 
 

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin warned Monday that road projects could be delayed or come to a halt in a month if lawmakers let a federal fund run out of money.

Federal money pays for much of the road construction that goes on every season, and Illinois gets about $1.4 billion per year from the Highway Trust Fund.

The Springfield Democrat says ongoing projects are set to spend more money than what's available to pay for them. If the funds run out, projects could be halted.

Durbin said he'll back a package of tax loophole closures to raise money for road projects, and details could be released today. One idea, Durbin said, would be to raise penalties on delinquent federal taxpayers. He opposes a House Republican plan to end mail delivery on Saturday to help make up the shortfall.

He said the federal government needs to come up with $8 billion to pay for projects that are being worked on now. The shortfall also raises questions about how lawmakers proceed in coming years.

"There's a lot at stake here. A lot of jobs and a lot of opportunities," Durbin said.

Durbin pointed to the addition of lanes to Route 59 in Naperville as one project that required a significant portion of federal money.

Durbin talked to reporters atop a Springfield-area overpass alongside union leaders.

Acknowledging some lawmakers are likely to balk at the idea of additional taxes, he said federal rules aren't a "sacred writ" immune from change.

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