Illinois Looks For New Ways To Pay For Construction Projects After Federal Funding Loss

Nancy Harty
April 04, 2018 - 2:06 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Illinois drivers may end up shelling out a lot more as the state looks for other ways to pay for construction projects since the Trump Administration wants to shift costs away from the federal government.

Audrey Wennink, director of transportation with the Metropolitan Planning Council warned an Illinois House Transportation Committee that the President's proposal is not a magic fix for the state's transportation woes.  

A new study claims the state needs $4.6 billion a year to make all repairs needed for its roads, bridges and mass transit systems.

Mary Craighead, the author of the study from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, suggested ways to address the shortfall including raising the gasoline tax from 19 cents a gallon to 85 cents or increasing vehicle registration fees from $101 to $578.

The President's commitment to streamline how long it takes to get a project approved won praise from Dave Bennett, executive director of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus.

However, he said mayors are concerned about the federal government's flip from paying 80 percent of a project's cost to now only 20 percent saying, "that's a pretty heavy lift" for municipalities that are already seeing lower revenue from the state.

Another concern is that the state will lose funding as the U.S. Department of Transportation looks to more innovative projects, such as proposed space travel from New York to Los Angeles that would take only 30 minutes.

Wennink said that doesn't bode well for Illinois' many legacy projects, including a CTA rail system that's 125 years old.