Monday, April 30, 2012

IDOT releases construction plan

By Jamey Dunn

The Illinois Department of Transportation’s new multi-year construction plan seeks to assess the state's infrastructure across all modes of transportation.

The proposal is for Fiscal Year 2013 through Fiscal Year 2018, and it considers not only roads and bridges but airports and rail routes, including transit and freight rail. “It provides more balance and growth to an already vibrant transportation network in Illinois,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider. The plan calls for $9.2 billion in spending. The last of the capital bill funding, $1.2 billion would be pooled with $6.5 billion in federal funding, $2.2 billion in state funds and $454 million in local funds to pay for the program. In FY 2013, $1.8 billion would be spent. The plan calls for work to 2,302 miles of roads and replacement or repairs to 508 bridges. According to IDOT, the construction plant would create or sustain 120,000 jobs between FY 2013 and FY 2018.

IDOT's plan also focuses on sustainability and information technology. Under the plan, 1,000 miles of fiber optic cables would be installed and upgraded along state and local highways. According to the proposal, IDOT worked to install 3,100 miles of fiber optic cable between 2010 and 2012.

While releasing the construction plan, IDOT also made a pitch for Gov. Pat Quinn’s plans to revamp the state’s Medicaid and pension systems. “To ensure the continuation of the state's capital plan and projects like these, which are putting hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents back to work, Governor Quinn has proposed necessary changes to stabilize and restructure the state's pension and Medicaid programs after decades of fiscal mismanagement,” said an IDOT news release announcing the construction plan. “These changes will lead to greater certainty in Illinois' business climate and help respond to serious concerns from the ratings' agencies. The billions of dollars saved through these reforms are key to the state's ability to ensure that critical capital improvement and road safety projects in Illinois are able to move forward.”

Schneider said that savings from both proposals would free up money that could potentially be spent on capital projects. She said that failure to address the two issues could result in a drop to the state's credit rating. Capital construction projects are funded with borrowed money, so Schneider said a drop to the state's credit rating, which can lead to higher interest rates on borrowing, could cut into IDOT's plans.  “So if the interest rates go higher and more of that money is dedicated to debt service, then that’s less for projects.”

Go to IDOT's website to see a map of projects planned across the state. 


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