Illinois transportation officials have announced a six-year, $21.3-billion investment in the state’s road and bridge network, beginning with $3.15 billion worth of projects in fiscal year 2021.
At current funding levels, the plan allocates $6.1 billion to improve 3,356 miles of roads and $4.7 billion to improve 8.4 million sq ft of bridge deck. The remaining funds will be spent on major projects such as bridges on new alignments, highway capacity expansion and interchange upgrades, as well as engineering, land acquisition and safety and system modernizations.
Selection criteria for the program include pavement conditions, traffic volumes, and crash history. Projects include upgrades to multiple sections of I-90 and I-94 in Chicago, pavement improvements and bridge replacements on a 38.7-mile stretch of I-24 in Massac County, and three state route crossings of the Illinois River in Cass and Marshall Counties.
While federal aid comprises a large portion of the plan’s funding mix, one-third, or approximately $7 billion, will come from state funds—gasoline, sales and income tax receipts—that have been diminished as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Last year, the state legislature okayed a 20-cent-per-gallon fuel tax increase as part of a $33.2-billion infrastructure package, with provisions for annual inflation-indexed adjustments. In May, a study by the non-profit Illinois Economic Policy Institute projected that revenue losses from reduced travel could total between $296 million to $559 million in 2020.
The state legislature has not met since May, when the Illinois General Assembly voted to send a $40-billion maintenance budget to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's (D) desk.
In a statement announcing the six-year plan, acting state transportation secretary Omer Osman said that while the Illinois Department of Transportation is not cutting or delaying projects amid the economic uncertainty, “we will continue monitoring the impacts on future revenues to ensure we are investing taxpayer resources wisely."