What the suburbs get in state's $34.6 billion plan for roads, bridges, airports, more

  • Route 20 from west of Randall Road east through Route 31 and further to about Shales Parkway will see bridge replacements, construction of auxiliary lanes and other improvements in the state's roadwork plans for 2023-28.

    Route 20 from west of Randall Road east through Route 31 and further to about Shales Parkway will see bridge replacements, construction of auxiliary lanes and other improvements in the state's roadwork plans for 2023-28. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 8/14/2022 8:47 AM

SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of Transportation on Friday laid out a six-year, $34.6 billion spending plan for road, bridge, transit, rail, airport and port upkeep, and it includes several projects in the suburbs.

More than half a billion dollars is projected for I-190 around O'Hare International Airport and Rosemont. About $110 million is slated for 15 bridge projects on Route 53 from Route 12 south to Algonquin Road. More than $150 million is set aside for work on Route 20 in Elgin from west of Randall Road east to Shales Parkway, where the interchange and bridge will be replaced.

 

More than $100 million is planned for reconstruction and railroad grade separation on Route 60/83 in Mundelein. Nearly $34 million is set aside for corridor improvements, including a new bridge, on Route 56/Butterfield Road from west of I-355 to west of Route 53.

It's the latest multiyear plan, this one from 2023 to 2028, backed by the state's 2019 Rebuild Illinois bipartisan infrastructure law, which doubled the state's motor fuel tax from 19 to 38 cents per gallon and scheduled it to grow with the rate of inflation. That measure also increased driving-related fees, redirected a portion of the state's sales tax on motor fuel to the road fund, and authorized borrowing to pay for construction projects.

"A little over three years ago, I signed our historic bipartisan infrastructure program into law," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a news conference at the IDOT building in Springfield. "And since then, Rebuild Illinois has undertaken a massive transformation of our state's transportation systems."

Approximately $8.6 billion has already been spent in the first three years of the Rebuild Illinois plan on road and bridge projects, including over $6.4 billion on the state transportation system and over $2.1 billion on local systems.

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It's a slower pace than laid out in the six-year, $33.2 billion spending plan passed in 2019. But IDOT Secretary Omer Osman said he's hopeful that the pace picks up as several large projects move beyond the initial engineering phase.

IDOT has expanded its engineering staff and lawmakers approved a "design-build" process in Senate Bill 2981 this year to combine the design and construction in a more efficient bidding process, which could also hasten things, he said.

"We are aggressively, aggressively pushing all these projects across the entire state," he said.

The highway portion of the multiyear plan -- a required filing each year for the state's transportation agency -- accounts for $24.6 billion of the planned spending. Of that, $13.3 billion, or 54%, is federally funded, just over $6 billion is state funding, $4.1 billion comes from bond proceeds, and $1.2 billion comes from local reimbursements.

The current fiscal year, which began July 1, is scheduled to see $3.7 billion in new construction under the road and bridge plan.

Another nearly $10 billion in combined state, federal, local and private spending was laid out for transit, marine transportation, railways and airports big and small. Of that, 59% was state spending and 31% federal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Projects in that plan include construction of high-speed rail between St. Louis and Chicago, and airport upgrades.

Road projects are underway in all nine of the state's IDOT districts, from a $54 million interchange reconstruction, bridge replacement and repair on Interstate 80 in Will County, to $100.3 million for improvements on Interstate 24 from Metropolis to Interstate 57 in Massac, Johnson and Williamson counties.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law by President Joe Biden last year allowed Illinois to expand its multiyear plan by $4 billion, Osman said.

The fact that Illinois had an infrastructure plan when the federal law passed, Pritzker said, made the state better equipped to take advantage of federal matching funding, which provides for an 80% federal match for a state's investment of 20% of certain projects' costs.

The Rebuild Illinois plan passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in Pritzker's first year as governor, marking the first state capital infrastructure plan in nearly a decade.

Lawmakers from both parties hailed it as forward-thinking for its automatic motor fuel tax increase, raised registration rates for electric vehicles, and the authorization of bonding to pay for construction. One lawmaker voting against all three portions of the plan was then-Rep. Darren Bailey, the Xenia Republican and current state senator who is challenging Pritzker in the 2022 governor's race.

Bailey has frequently criticized the motor fuel tax increase, successfully using it as an avenue of attack against challengers in the Republican primary. But he hasn't offered up an infrastructure funding plan of his own.

Asked for comment on the infrastructure plan and potential alternatives Friday, Bailey's team issued a statement.

"J.B. Prtizker's gas tax hike gave Illinois the second-highest gas tax in the country, and some of the highest gas prices. It is simply not affordable," spokesperson Joe DeBose said in a statement. "48 states are able to build their transportation infrastructure with lower gas taxes than Illinois. We can do better with zero-based budgeting and reprioritizing spending, but not with J.B. Pritzker in charge."

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