What would the $2 trillion infrastructure plan do for the suburbs?
On the heels of the $1.9 trillion American Recovery Act, President Joe Biden is pitching a second mammoth piece of legislation that aims to fix roads, bridges, public transit, water systems and the electric grid, while also delivering universal, high-speed internet, all at a cost of about $2 trillion.
Securing votes will be a heavy political lift for the White House, but if the American Jobs Plan passes in Congress, what will it mean for Illinois?
"There is a keen recognition, No. 1, that U.S. spending on infrastructure as a percentage of GDP has fallen to embarrassing levels," Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove said. "And No. 2, if all we do is repair potholes on the infrastructure of 1950, we haven't done our job. We need to build out the infrastructure of the next century."
U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi said the plan would benefit the region "not only through upgrading our roads and bridges and highways but also at O'Hare International Airport." That could include modernizing flight management technology to ensure O'Hare "can handle traffic at a higher clip," even in bad weather, the Schaumburg Democrat said.
There's a lot to unpack in the $2 trillion program, with $115 billion nationwide slotted for road and bridge repairs, $85 billion for public transit and $80 billion to move passenger and freight trains more efficiently.
Another $174 billion would propel the American electric vehicle market with rebates and tax breaks for consumers, installation of 500,000 charging stations across the country, incentives to U.S. automakers, and funding to electrify diesel school and transit buses.
"Pace was very happy to see investments in electric buses," Pace Executive Director Rocky Donahue said. "We see this as further evidence that the Biden Administration recognizes the essential service transit provides and the critical role we play in fighting climate change."
And $100 billion is allocated for nationwide, accessible broadband.
"One thing we found through e-learning and telecommuting (during COVID-19) is not all internet connections are the same. It's really a travesty for a child to have to go to a restaurant parking lot to access the internet for homework," Krishnamoorthi said.
Numerous Republicans have criticized Biden's idea of raising the corporate income tax from 21% to 28% to help fund the program.
"There is no doubt that smart infrastructure investment can help our economy, which is something that I have long advocated," said downstate Republican U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood of Dunlap. But "the proposed tax hikes on job creators included in the over $2 trillion spending package would send jobs overseas, make America less competitive, and lower wages."
However, Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon thinks that "bringing a 21st-century infrastructure to America is something most of Congress can agree is needed -- I certainly do.
"The issue we're facing now is how we define infrastructure and how we pay for it. I look forward to working with the (Biden) administration on how we can narrow down specifics and put forth a responsible package that gains broad bipartisan support," Kinzinger said.
Finally, Active Transportation Alliance officials identified $25 billion in the American Jobs Plan that could be used nationwide for everything from trails to safer roads to more sidewalks in what they characterized as an "unprecedented scale of investment in walking, biking, and transit."
Got an opinion on the American Jobs Plan, expected to extend though the decade? Drop an email to email@example.com.
One more thing
Arrivals at O'Hare should be aware of construction in the lower-level roadway that will affect travelers from Terminals 1, 2 and 3.
Sections of curbside and some crosswalks will be closed for the project, as will the ramp to the recirculation road, although an alternative will be in place. The commercial lane also will be closed.
Friends and family picking up passengers should consider using short-term parking, officials advise.
Prepare for irritation on the Central Tri-State Tollway between Plainfield Road and 75th Street near Burr Ridge.
Traffic in both directions will be reduced to three lanes as the Illinois tollway continues a widening project.