Originally published on WREX on May 19, 2021.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gov. JB Pritzker says the state’s ready to move forward into the next phase of the Rebuild Illinois capital spending plan. Pritzker announced a new six-year $20.7 billion construction plan to improve highways on Wednesday.
The Illinois Department of Transportation said they kept construction projects on schedule throughout the pandemic without cutting any projects. Acting Director Omer Osman says IDOT stands prepared to work on even more projects over the next six years.
This plan will help reconstruct over 2,700 more miles of roads and nearly 8 million square feet of bridges between 2022 and 2027. The Pritzker administration says $3.3 billion of the program has been earmarked for the next fiscal year. Officials say the state is investing $5.79 billion in highway reconstruction and preservation and $4.82 billion for bridge improvements. That’s completely separate from $2.59 billion for strategic expansion, $1.43 billion to support engineering and land acquisition, and $1.21 billion for safety and system modernization.
Pritzker says the projects will improve safety on state and local transportation systems. He believes the investment will also create economic opportunities and enhance the quality of life.
“It’s about investing in our future,” Pritzker said. “Supporting this generation and the next, making sure we have good jobs and roads to get where we’re going and building a state where opportunity is just around the corner for everyone no matter where you’re standing.”
The governor explained the six-year program can create and support hundreds of thousands of jobs. Pritzker hopes that can help bolster economic recovery following the pandemic.
Besides work on major roads and bridges across the state, lawmakers say this plan can put Illinois on a path to provide equitable solutions for underserved communities. Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) chairs the Senate Transportation Committee.
“We need to ensure that we’re continuing to prioritize accessibility,” Villivalam said. “It’s all, to me, a matter of folks being able to get to their job, get to their school, get to the hospital and so forth.”
Republicans also thanked the governor for bipartisanship in the efforts to improve transportation. They say modernization, expansion, and job growth is the best way to move forward.
At the same time, Pritzker said full Amtrak services will resume on July 19 since the number of COVID-19 cases continues to drop. Meanwhile, people can start to buy tickets for their summer trips this week by clicking here.
“This increased capacity will make it even easier for Illinoisans and out-of-staters alike to explore all that our state has to offer,” Pritzker said.
The governor said travelers can support small-town economies at stops along the way. He also explained the Rebuild Illinois plan allocates $1.1 billion for rail improvements.