The Proposed HIghway Improvement Program, a multi-year program consisting of $20.7 billion in transportation construction funding, was recently announced for the state of Illinois by Governor J.B. Pritzker.
The program will allocate $15.84 billion to state transportation system upgrades and $4.87 billion for local system updates, and will cover the years between 2022 and 2027.
“The newest Multi-Year Plan, announced earlier this week, is a project to improve nearly 2,800 miles of road and nearly 8 million square feet of bridges,” said the Illinois Department of Transportation in a tweet.
This plan will work toward returning Illinois to its strong position as an prominent location for the transportation industry across the country.
“We are continuing to build and sustain infrastructure that gives Illinois its competitive edge and strengthens our status as the transportation hub of North America,” said Omer Osman, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation. “This latest multi-year program means we will keep making historic improvements in our transportation system, just as we have throughout the pandemic.”
The plan seeks to bring major improvements to 2,779 miles of roadways and 7.9 million square feet of bridge deck over the next six years, with $3.3 billion being dedicated specifically to the next fiscal year. As of right now, 8.8% of Illinois’ bridges have been deemed structurally deficient by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
In Pritzker’s plan, $5.79 billion will be allocated to roadway construction and preservation efforts, $4.82 billion will be dedicated to bridge improvements, and $2.59 billion will be given to expansion projects. Additionally, $1.43 billion will be allocated to system support efforts regarding land acquisition and engineering projects, and another $1.21 billion will be dedicated specifically to safety improvement projects throughout Illinois. Finally, for local truck route upgrades throughout the state, the plan will allocate $42 million.
2019’s infrastructure improvement initiative, called ‘Rebuild Illinois,’ will be supporting the investment needed for this plan. Rebuild Illinois aims to aid in the funding of improvements for Illinois state parks, historic sites, education, clean water infrastructure, bridges, roads, and transit.
To raise funds for Rebuilding Illinois, fuel tax rates throughout the state doubled in 2019 and rose again during 2020. As of right now, fuel tax rates in Illinois are at 46.2 cents per gallon, and 38.7 cents per gallon for gasoline.
“Illinois needs reliable infrastructure capable of moving people and goods safely across the state,” said Chicago Senator Omar Aquino. “Alleviating congestion, resurfacing roads, and rehabilitating bridges are key activities to keep economic activity and prosperity flowing across Illinois.”
Rebuild Illinois has been able to help fund a variety of infrastructure-boosting efforts–such as local truck route projects and the marine transportation system–since first coming to fruition. Now, the Multi-Year Program, as Pritzker’s plan has been nicknamed, will strive to help rebuild the state economy following the coronavirus pandemic by creating thousands of new jobs.
Additionally, Pritzker has recently announced that Amtrak’s full passenger rail services would return to the state, which had been limited until now due to COVID-19 concerns.
“I’m proud to announce that 100% normal Amtrak service will fully resume in Illinois on July 19th, two months from today,” said Pritzker recently in a tweet. “This will make it even easier for everyone to explore all that our state has to offer, supporting small businesses and small town economies along the way.”
Because nearly 5 million Illinois residents have received COVID-19 vaccines, Amtrak can return to its stations across 20 different Illinois communities and continue providing the much-need connections to St. Louis and Milwaukee, among other destinations.
“As Illinois residents begin to travel throughout the state once again, regularly, for both work and leisure following the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring our infrastructure provides safe, efficient means to do so is a top priority of mine,” said state Senator Melinda Bush.
Bush is also thrilled for the potential this plan will have to bring more employment opportunities to the state and to help strengthen Illinois’ economy after such a difficult time.
“Furthermore, the projects outlined in the plan will provide thousands of jobs for hardworking Illinoisans who have longed for a return to work,” she added.