Jul. 21--Illinois officials rolled out a $3.15 billion transportation plan Tuesday, the second year of transportation projects funded in part with higher state gasoline taxes.
But with the announcement of transportation projects for the upcoming fiscal year, there was a warning about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on transportation projects. With stay at home orders and businesses being forced to close, people will travel less and less money will be generated through the state's gasoline tax. That could affect the ability to undertake some projects in the future.
"While we are not cutting projects at this time, we will continue to monitor the impact on future revenues to make sure we are investing taxpayers' resources wisely," said Omer Osman, acting secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Last year, Illinois lawmakers voted to raise the state's motor fuel tax from 18-cents a gallon to 38-cents a gallon. It was the first increase in a decade.
At the same time, lawmakers voted to have the gas tax automatically increase each year to prevent inflation from eroding its buying power over time. The Department of Revenue says that for the next year motorists will be paying 38.7-cents a gallon for the gasoline tax.
Osman said that without the increase, Illinois was "seriously looking at a scenario that at one time was unthinkable at IDOT." That includes closing bridges, delaying safety work and losing federal transportation money because they state couldn't come up with matching funds.
"It was not a pretty picture," he said.
Gov. JB Pritzker said the influx of transportation money has already paid dividends, such as the design work to replace Interstate 80 bridges over the Des Plaines River, resurfacing of Interstate 55 around Springfield and reconstruction of the Murray Baker bridge in Peoria.
It also allowed the state to direct money to keeping highways in better shape earlier.
"That puts an end to the practice of letting roads and bridges in Illinois deteriorate until they are in just terrible shape," he said.
He also said the transportation plan will provide thousands of jobs during a job market shaken by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Here are some projects planned for the Springfield, Rockford and Peoria areas during the 2021 fiscal year.
* $800,000 for maintenance work on the Interstate 55 bridges over Lake Springfield south of Springfield.
* $4.2 million for bridge repairs to the Interstate 55 bridge over Illinois 54 and Sangamon Avenue.
* $1.5 million for deck repairs to the Interstate 55 bridge over the Sangamon River.
* $1.47 million to repair U.S. 51 in Christian County from the Shelby County line to north of Assumption.
* $3.8 million to repair Illinois 97 and Illinois 123 in Menard County from Boy Scout Road to the Sangamon County line.
* $600,000 for archeological surveys and utility adjustments needed for the replacement of the U.S. 67/Illinois 104 bridge over the Illinois River at Beardstown.
* $1.57 million to repair Illinois 125 in Cass County from Illinois 78 to the Sangamon County line.
* $15.8 million for repairs to the U.S. 20 bypass in Rockford from Falconer Road to Simpson Road.
* 8 million for reconstruction and adding lanes to West State Street in Rockford from Day Avenue to Independence Avenue.
* $5 million for bridge repairs on Interstate 74 between Morton and Goodfield.
* $13 million to replace the Illinois 8 bridge over the BNSF railroad at Edwards near Peoria.
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