IDOT official: Rauner wants to spend 'billions' on infrastructure

Truckers that navigate a "maze of rules and regulations" in the region can expect changes to move them quicker through the city and suburbs, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning chief Joseph Szabo said Monday.

Truck traffic ultimately harms quality of life in the region, Szabo said at the William O. Lipinski transportation conference at Northwestern University.

CMAP is working with municipalities, the Illinois tollway and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to streamline permitting and truck routes across the metropolitan area and particularly in towns surrounding O'Hare International Airport.

"Truck routes stop and start at a municipality's border ... it's not rational," Szabo said.

Also headlining at the forum was IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn, who promised that when the showdown between Republicans and Democrat leaders over Illinois' operating budget ends, attention will turn to a capital program.

Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to spend "billions" on transportation and infrastructure, Blankenhorn said, adding there are multiple revenue options on the table.

"I'm a user fees kind of guy," Blankenhorn said. But "we have to find a fair way" to assign them, he noted. "What are the metrics that would make it fair?"

The symposium sponsored by Northwestern's Transportation Center focused on the supply chain of goods in the Chicago region.

Szabo said it's important the federal government's next multiyear transportation bill commit about $2 billion toward improving freight transportation. A Chicago area project aimed at reducing freight train gridlock by building bridges and other improvements is still far from completion because of a shortfall, planners said.

Joseph Szabo
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