What suburban projects landed in House infrastructure bill
Like them or hate them, congressional earmarks are back in a five-year, multibillion-dollar U.S. House transportation bill that dangles millions for roads, intersections and trails in the suburbs.
The INVEST in America Act that passed in the U.S. House July 1 reintroduces earmarks -- nixed in 2011 after scandals involving wasteful pet projects in members' districts.
The reformed versions are intended to be useful and ready to go with broad community support. So what's in the proposal for the metro region? Let's dive in.
• Funding for road reconstruction and improvements includes: $2.4 million for Algonquin Road in Spring Grove, $7 million for the Fabyan Parkway/Bliss Road interchange in Geneva, $2 million for Central Road in Hoffman Estates, $5.9 million for Dundee Road in Elgin, $1.1 million for East New York Street in Aurora, $4.8 million for the Roosevelt and Naperville roads interchange in Wheaton, $2 million for Milwaukee Avenue in Glenview, $3 million for Lake-Cook Road near Route 53, and $928,000 for Rodenberg Road in Roselle and Schaumburg.
• Public transit aid includes: $7 million for Metra to advance plans for zero-emissions locomotives, more than $3 million for Pace for express bus routes and traffic signal coordination systems, and nearly $7 million to the Chicago Transit Authority for upgrades to the Red Line Loyola and Belmont stations plus $4.3 million for expanding Blue Line station accessibility.
• Walking/bike trail allotments include $1 million for the Quentin Road bike path in Hawthorn Woods through Lake Zurich and $1.2 million for the DuPage River East Branch Trail in Lombard.
The INVEST in America Act, which most Republicans in the House voted against, is priced at $547 billion and would be funded mainly by existing sources such as gas taxes. In the meantime, the Senate is considering a $1.2 trillion "Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework" with more than $600 billion in new spending, though Democrats and Republicans have yet to agree on how to pay for it.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg touted the infrastructure framework during stops at the CTA Red Line 95th Street station in Chicago and at a CSX rail yard in Bedford Park.
"It represents the largest investment in public transit in the history of the United States," said Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. "The most we've done on roads and bridges ... since the Eisenhower Administration."
The framework proposes $49 billion for public transit and $109 billion for roads and bridges.
Downstate Republican Rep. Darin LaHood, whose father, Ray LaHood, served as Transportation secretary, "is encouraged by ongoing bipartisan negotiations in the Senate on infrastructure, but with even the left-leaning Tax Policy Center noting that President Biden's proposals raise taxes on most of the middle class, Rep. LaHood thinks we can do more to get people back to work and help families as we did in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, by promoting job growth, wage gains, and allowing Illinoisans to keep more of their paycheck," spokesman John Rauber said recently.
You should know
Metra riders can vent or praise the railroad in real time through an onboard survey that launched this month. Passengers can connect with QR codes. The survey takes about three minutes and includes questions about cleanliness, punctuality and communications.
Dozens of readers responded to a recent column about scam texts and emails purporting to be from the Illinois secretary of state's office and IDOT. "I received a text saying it was from the Illinois Department of Transportation about a driver's license waiver," Gilda Karu of Arlington Heights wrote. "Obviously the sender does not know that IDOT does not handle driver's licenses in Illinois. When I Googled the number it said it was an unsafe number in Georgia related to fraud."
Drivers on I-55 should brace for delays as IDOT crews begin patching and resurfacing Route 53 between Bolingbrook and Romeoville. The work will last through October.