Quinn unveils road construction plan

SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Pat Quinn unveiled the state's annual six-year construction plan Wednesday, a proposal without many suburban headlines as the governor looks to ask lawmakers for a bigger building program soon.

As far as regional showstoppers go, work on the Cumberland Flyover to alleviate gridlock on the Kennedy Expressway, improvements on the Stevenson Expressway, and a rebuild of the Circle Interchange were among the major activities.

Quinn has asked to put together a bipartisan team of lawmakers to draft a bigger construction plan like the $31 billion package in 2009 that used video gambling in bars, increased vehicle fees and higher alcohol taxes to pay for scores of infrastructure projects.

The Democrat said Wednesday he doesn't support raising gasoline taxes to help pay for a new plan as some business groups have suggested.

"I think that's a depleting resource," Quinn said. "I think that using the gas tax to fund our future would not be a wise idea. I'm not for that."

Lawmakers are planning to leave Springfield by the end of May and face a major budget and taxes battle ahead, so the time to hatch a new construction plan could be growing short.

However, while the state may be lagging on a capital plan, that doesn't mean there isn't one. The Illinois tollway is embarked on an ambitious 15-year $12 billion road-building program, paid for with a toll increase instituted in 2012. This year, the agency is widening the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) and working on extending the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway.

The six-year plan extending from 2015 to 2020 included a number of major projects downstate such as $307 million for a new bridge in Moline, $204 million for U.S. Route 50 improvements in the Peoria area and $110 million for the Alton-Godfrey Expressway.

However, there are some local improvements planned. These include.

• $107.9 million for bridge reconstruction on the Stevenson Expressway (I-55).

• $60 million for re-establishing Amtrak service on the Chicago-Rockford-Dubuque Corridor, with a station in South Elgin.

• $18.7 million for work on the Cumberland Flyover, a new ramp at the Kennedy Expressway and Cumberland Avenue.

• $329 million for reconstructing the Circle Interchange where the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Dan Ryan expressways meet.

• $234.7 million to Metra toward the Positive Train Control, automatic braking system, although this funding was marked as "tentative."

• $49 million for compressed natural gas buses for Pace, although this was another "tentative" project.

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