$1.68 BILLON DOLLAR STATE OF ILLINOIS
TRANSPORTATION BILL SIGNED
Governor Pat Quinn signed into law on Tuesday, July 10, $1.68 billion worth of statewide transportation projects that are expected to create roughly 18,400 jobs, according to State Officials.
The projects include improvements to road, rail and transit, like expanding highways and modernizing rail infrastructure. Governor Quinn signed the bill in the Chicago suburb of Bellwood as U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the other Labor Leaders were on hand to witness this historic effort.
The improvements include more than $817 million in new highway projects and nearly $800 million in mass transit and rail improvements in the 2013 fiscal year.
This long anticipated announcement was the next phase of a Capital Projects Program that began in 2009. The legislation, passed by State Lawmakers earlier in the year, authorized the State to borrow the money. Illinois will pay for the projects by selling off bonds.
A much-needed overpass separating trains and vehicles will be constructed in suburban Bellwood where the event was conducted in an effort to elevate heavy congestion. Other projects include adding new lanes to parts of Illinois Route 13 in the southern half of the state, Route 59 in northeastern Illinois and Route 71 in north-central Illinois.
It was also announced that Chicago will benefit from nearly $94 million in discretionary state funding for transportation projects including resurfacing arterial streets; a $22.5 million overhaul of a Chicago River bridge; and $3 million in engineering costs for a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive.
Teamsters Local 731 President Terrence J. Hancock stated that "this next phase of Governor Quinn's historic Illinois Jobs Now! Capital Program, will create good jobs, strengthen our transportation system and support economic growth across all of Illinois".
ELGIN-O'HARE COMPETING FOR FEDERAL
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said an extension of the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway could be a top Illinois candidate for a share of $500 million in federal funding along with other key transportation projects. The $500 million pot is part of transportation legislation signed into law Friday, July 6, 2012 by President Barack Obama. The funding is to be utilized to support projects of regional and national significance and Durbin said that the project fits that definition, but will compete with an interstate bridge in the Quad Cities and a major railroad project in Springfield Illinois to name a few.
Senator Durbin indicated that the earmarked $500 million is just a small part of the plan approved by Congress. It also includes $4.1 billion on behalf of Illinois roads and $1.5 billion for mass transit. The Elgin-O'Hare extension needs about $300 million, which would extend the roadway east to O'Hare Airport and allow the construction of a western bypass to create direct access to the airport.
"By putting more people to work in good jobs repairing transportation systems and moving the economy, all Illinois residents win", Hancock said.