IDOT unveils 6-year, $41 billion plan for infrastructure projects

IDOT unveils 6-year, $41 billion plan for infrastructure projects

By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
phancock@capitolnewsillinois.com

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation unveiled a plan on Friday for spending nearly $41 billion in federal, state and local funds over the next six years to repair and upgrade roads, bridges, airports, rail lines and other infrastructure throughout the state.

The latest version of the plan, which IDOT updates annually, is the largest multiyear plan in state history. It’s driven by the state’s 2019 Rebuild Illinois capital infrastructure program. The initial six-year Rebuild Illinois plan included $33.2 billion for transportation, funded largely by annualized increases to the state’s motor fuel tax and increases to driving-related licensing fees that took effect in 2020.

“Over the next six years, we’re investing over $40 billion to improve all modes of transportation across our great state,” Gov. JB Pritzker said at a news conference in Springfield. “And that means better roads and bridges, modernized transit and aviation, and expanded and faster passenger rail service. It even extends to improved river ports, new sewers and water infrastructure and a huge upgrade to bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.”

More than half of the plan, $27 billion, will go toward road and bridge projects, including $4.6 billion in the current fiscal year. That will fund repair and reconstruction of 2,866 miles of roadway and 9.8 million square feet of bridge deck on the state highway system, along with another 738 miles of roadway and 1.1 million square feet of bridge deck in systems maintained by local governments.

The project list includes $611.5 million for reconstruction and improvements to portions of Interstate 90 in Cook County that will include improving safety and access to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. The plan also calls for spending $135.1 million to expand portions of U.S. Highway 24 to four lanes in Peoria and Fulton counties; $156 million to replace a bridge over the Mississippi River in Quincy; and $116 million to replace a bridge over the Ohio River at Cairo.

The multiyear plan also earmarks $13.96 billion for other modes of transportation, including $9.85 billion for transit systems, $2.67 billion for freight and passenger rail, $1.25 billion for aviation projects, and $190 million for ports and waterways.

Among the intermodal projects in the plan are $100 million for safety and reliability improvements on Amtrak’s Saluki service between Chicago and Carbondale and runway improvements at municipal airports in Litchfield and Pontiac.

Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said the $41 billion six-year plan represents a 10 percent increase over the previous multiyear plan, and the money earmarked for the current fiscal year represents a 25 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

“But that is due in large part to the engineering and planning effort in the early years of capital program (which) is starting to result in more construction activity on work on the street,” he said.

Pritzker and other officials at the news conference emphasized that the Rebuild Illinois program is meant to do more than improve safety and efficiency in transportation. The program is also supporting thousands of high-paying jobs in construction, engineering and other fields.

“This is more than just new rail. This is more than a runway at an airport,” said Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea. “This is about opportunities. We can see all those physical infrastructure improvements, but what we don’t really see is the opportunities that this program creates for a diverse workforce with high wages, middle class wages, health care, and retirement security.”

Through four years of the Rebuild Illinois program, IDOT has completed $12.1 billion of improvements statewide, including 5,339 miles of highway, 533 bridges, and 762 other safety improvements.

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

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