Crews and workers are expected back today
After more than two years, Illinois lawmakers ended the longest state budget impasse in modern history, overriding Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto attempt of budget-related legislation. The money and the votes didn’t come easy, and there will be residual effects.
We’re not talking about the $5 billion tax increase. In the short-term, we’re talking about state roads. As we noted last month, roughly 900 statewide construction and transportation projects worth $3.3 billion had been put on hold while the budget was in limbo. On July 1 the Illinois Department of Transportation warned that the shutdown would impact “highway, rail, transit, and aeronautics projects.” On July 4, as tense negotiations inched forward at a strained pace, the department updated its website to say that construction would stay suspended.
Yesterday, the IDOT updated its site yet again to announce that construction will resume today now that a budget is in place. But it also warned the public to be especially cautious traveling in or around work zones, as projects rev up, traffic slows, and nearly 22,000 workers affected by the stoppage are put back to work.
That means: Keeping an eye out for workers, construction crews and vehicles, and anyone in orange vests. The delay of a state budget forced state-funded crews and contractors to abandon all construction sites, no matter the condition. Highways that were once saturated with people putting in long hours went dark for a week, and it’s likely that motorists grew accustomed to that. Now that workers are back, drivers should expect slower speed zones and more congestion as construction gets back on track.
Also be aware of: Construction zones that are technically active, but have yet to see crews on site. The state budget doesn’t necessarily mean that all contractors are obligated or have sorted through the logistics of scheduling or assignments. Some sites may take priority over others, leaving voids in certain areas. Active construction or not, drivers are required to obey all traffic signs and speeds while traveling through work zones and to stay alert.
Construction areas and interstates to know: As noted by the IDOT in recent weeks for pothole patching utility work, bridge repair work, and other closures: I-55, I-72, I-80, I-57, I-280, which have seen construction at various points of the interstate; check the IDOT’s Twitter for real-time updates.