Thursday, Aug. 11


Governor thanks President Bush and Illinois congressional delegation for their hard work on transportation bill

Calls on Republicans in General Assembly to act in a bipartisan manner and support funding for road projects

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[AUG. 11, 2005]  AURORA -- On Wednesday Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich thanked President George W. Bush for signing into law a new federal transportation funding bill that will increase by $300 million a year the amount of money Illinois receives from Washington for transportation. At the presidential signing ceremony in Aurora, Blagojevich thanked the Illinois congressional delegation for their part in bringing together a $286.4 billion agreement that ended a nearly two-year delay in passing a new transportation bill.

"This is encouraging news for the whole state of Illinois," Blagojevich said. "We've had to plan conservatively over the past couple years because we did not know what kind of support we'd be getting from Washington for road and infrastructure projects. I want to thank President Bush for working with Congress to put together a transportation funding package that will help keep America and Illinois moving forward. I also want to thank Speaker Hastert, Senators Durbin and Obama, congressman Costello and all of our congressional delegation. I know it has been a difficult process over the past two years, but their hard work means more money for Illinois highways, public transportation and congestion relief, and jobs for the men and women that will be working on these projects.

"Now it's time for the state of Illinois to do its job and match the federal funds. We can use the road program for the match, but if we want to build these roads quickly, we should pass a road bill this fall. That means that both parties -- Democrats and Republicans -- need to come together to pass a road bill, just like they did in Congress. Last spring, only Democrats voted to build more roads across the state. This year, we need the Republicans to support building roads and promoting the economy as well."

During the 2005 spring legislative session in Springfield, the Senate Democrats voted unanimously to pass a road bill that would have led to $1.5 billion in new road construction across Illinois. Because legislation that includes bonding requires a three-fifths vote, passing the bill requires support from both parties. Last year, Republicans voted unanimously not to support a road program. The governor hopes that the passage of the federal highway bill will give Illinois Republicans a reason to now vote to build new roads.

Under the transportation bill signed by the president, Illinois will see an estimated $309 million increase per year for highways, above the annual average of $927 million during the previous federal transportation bill, TEA 21. During the five-year life of the new bill -- the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Act: A Legacy for Users -- Illinois is expected to receive approximately $6.18 billion in highway funding.

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Illinois will also see an increase of almost $100 million per year for public transportation. Over the five-year life of the new act, Illinois will average $420 million per year, almost $98 million per year more than under the previous funding. The $2.1 billion for public transportation does not include special transit earmarks that are expected to be more than $450 million.

"We worked hard with our congressional delegation to improve the federal support we get for transportation projects, and now Illinois is among the top five states nationwide receiving earmarked funds for transportation and top 10 in overall transportation funding," Blagojevich said.

"There are still a lot of details that we have to look at and variables that can have an impact on our federal funding, but certainly a $300 million increase is great news," said Transportation Secretary Timothy W. Martin. "When we put together our multiyear plan we assumed no increase in federal funds. As we get more information and see how everything is playing out at the federal level, we will have a better idea on the future impact this will have to our state transportation system."

The following are some of the priority projects for Illinois and funding levels:

  • New Mississippi River bridge project, $239,000,000
  • Prairie Parkway, $207,000,000
  • Western access and bypass at O'Hare, $140,000,000
  • Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Project, $100,000,000
  • Interstate 74 bridge, Quad Cities, $32,400,000
  • U.S. 51, Decatur-Vandalia, $24,000,000
  • Chicago Transit Authority Ravenswood expansion project, $225,000,000
  • Chicago Transit Authority Douglas Branch reconstruction, $130,000,000
  • Metra North Central corridor, $40,000,000
  • Metra South West corridor, $27,000,000
  • Metra Union Pacific West Line extension, $26,000,000

[News release from the governor's office]

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