Illinois to spend $45bn on renewing infrastructure

JB Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, has signed off a $45bn plan to repair and upgrade the state’s infrastructure over six years, with the lion’s share to be spent on road and rail routes.

The "Rebuild Illinois" plan allocates more than $33bn of federal, state and local funds for transportation projects, including $25bn for roads and bridges, $4.5bn for mass transit, $1.1 for rail, and $50m for cycles and pedestrian schemes.

Omer Osman, acting Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) secretary, commented: "Our roads, bridges, transit providers, ports, rail systems and ability to grow bicycle and pedestrian accommodations have been neglected for too long. Because of Governor Pritzker’s leadership and the general assembly’s bipartisan support of transportation, IDOT is back in the business of building a premier transportation network that creates jobs and improves quality of life."

Among the principal Chicago projects are:

  • The Kennedy Expressway: a $561m scheme that will add on the road that connects the Interstate-90 to O’Hare Airport. There will be another $73m for bridge work.
  • 95th Street: $92m to rebuild an intersection at Stony Island Avenue that Time Magazine deemed the most dangerous intersection in Illinois. The project involves rebuilding railroad bridges to accommodate wider intersection and bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
  • Green Line metro: $60m to rebuild the Chicago Transit Authority’s Cottage Grove station.
  • Blue Line: $50m to upgrade the power system of the O’Hare branch.
  • Ida B Wells Drive: $25.4m for major bridge improvements under the Old Post Office

Other regional projects in the state will include:

  • $275m for expanding Amtrak passenger rail between Chicago and Rockford.
  • $225m for Amtrak passenger rail from Chicago to the Quad Cities.
  • $220m in upgrades for Pace suburban bus service.
  • $100m for the Kendall County Metra rail extension.
  • $100m for improvements in Amtrak passenger rail for Chicago to Carbondale.

Funding will mostly come from a doubling of the state’s 19c-per gallon petrol tax, which went into effect on 1 July. The bill also increases license plate fees by $50 to $151 annually and raises the fee for electric vehicles to $248 at the beginning of next year. Illinois has also issued $3bn in bonds, which will be spent on mass transit schemes.

Image: A westbound L train crosses the south fork of the Chicago River (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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