Illinois announces another big plan to improve roads and bridges

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By CARL GREEN
Illinois Correspondent

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (right front), acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman, (second from left) and other state officials announced the next phase of road and bridge improvements in the Rebuild Illinois capital program at a news conference May 18 in Springfield. – Andrew Sullender/Chicago Sun-Times photo

Springfield, IL – Illinois will spend $20.7 billion over six years to improve an additional 2,779 miles of roads and 7.9 million square feet of bridges, supporting thousands of jobs over six years under the Rebuild Illinois capital program, Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently announced. He also announced restoration of Amtrak service throughout the state.

The new highway improvement plan will begin with $3.32 billion worth of projects in the upcoming fiscal year. The projects are designed to enhance economic opportunity, quality of life and safety.

Project selection criteria included pavement conditions, traffic volumes and crash history. The plan breaks down into parts including:

  • $5.79 billion for highway reconstruction and preservation.
  • $4.82 billion for bridge improvements.
  • $2.59 billion for strategic expansion.
  • $1.43 billion for system support such as engineering and land acquisition.
  • $1.21 billion for safety and system modernizations.

“Under the governor’s leadership, 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 Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “This latest multiyear program means we will keep making historic improvements in our transportation system, just as we have throughout the pandemic. As people start to explore and travel Illinois again, we want passenger rail to be a viable option as well.”

METRO-EAST PROJECTS
Metro-East projects in the plan include:

  • I-270 – Replace bridge at Chain of Rocks Canal – $257 million.
  • I-270 – Interchange reconstruction at Illinois 3 – $42 million.
  • I-255 – Resurfacing from Illinois 3 to Illinois 15, including Jefferson Barracks Bridge – $148 million.
  • I-64 – Resurfacing 11 miles in Washington County from Beaver Creek to County 11 – $46 million.
  • I-64 – Add lanes, resurface and repair bridge on 3.9 miles between Greenmount Road and Illinois 158 – $35 million.
  • Poplar Street Bridge complex – replace approach bridge – $188 million.

2,700 MILES OF ROADS, 290 BRIDGES IMPROVED
In the past two years, Rebuild Illinois projects have improved 2,700 miles of roads and 290 bridges. The new projects have been agreed to by the Department of Transportation, Labor leaders, local governments and bipartisan legislators.

“Rebuild Illinois is about investing for the future – supporting this generation and the next, making sure we have good jobs and the roads to get there, and building a state where opportunity is just around the corner for everyone, no matter where you’re standing,” Pritzker said. “These projects will continue to create and support hundreds of thousands of jobs for hardworking Illinoisans across our state –– bolstering our pandemic recovery in yet one more way.”

AMTRAK RETURNING
The governor also announced the return of full Amtrak service in Illinois beginning July 19, based on more than 4.9 million residents being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 64 percent of residents age 18 and over receiving at least one dose. Face masks will be required.

Four state-sponsored lines will be restored, starting with Chicago-Milwaukee this week and followed by routes connecting Chicago with Quincy, Carbondale and St. Louis. Those routes are to be at full capacity by mid-July and passengers can reserve tickets beginning this week.

Amtrak has stations in 30 communities in Illinois, serving more than a million riders annually prior to the pandemic. For a full list of stops, schedule, and fare information, go online to Amtrak.com/Midwest.

State Sen. Doris Turner (D-Springfield) lauded the highway and bridges plan.

“The Rebuild Illinois program is the largest infrastructure investment in Illinois’ history, and it continues to have a transformational impact on central Illinois,” said Turner, whose district reaches south into Madison County. “This financial commitment is not just about streets and highways or roads and bridges. It is invigorating communities, spurring economic development, and putting people to work.”

FIRST MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN IN NEARLY A DECADE
Passed in 2019, Pritzker’s original Rebuild Illinois plan was the first of its kind in nearly a decade, investing a total of $33.2 billion into an aging transportation system. Rebuild Illinois is not only the largest capital program in state history, but also the first one that touches all modes of Illinois transportation including roads and bridges, transit, waterways, freight and passenger rail, aviation and bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.

Amtrak previously restored normal operations for the Hiawatha Service between Chicago, Glenview and Milwaukee on May 23, in partnership with Wisconsin.

“As Amtrak begins our 50th year of service nationally, we look forward to growing our ridership back to normal levels and celebrating this fall when our Illinois DOT partnership celebrates its 50th anniversary on Nov. 4,” Amtrak Vice President Ray Lang said.

Under Rebuild Illinois, $1.1 billion has been allocated for rail improvements alone including $78 million to upgrade rail crossings and improve safety.


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