Business Leaders for Transportation Hosts Forum with Reps. Hyde and Biggert, DuPage Chair Schillerstrom - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Business Leaders for Transportation Hosts Forum with Reps. Hyde and Biggert, DuPage Chair Schillerstrom

Final in 2003 Series; Discusses Transportation Issues Vital to Area Businesses

Recognizing that the business community is uniquely qualified to influence federal transportation policy, Business Leaders for Transportation hosted a series of five forums in 2003 that brought together members of the Illinois congressional delegation and their area business leaders to rally around key changes to the distribution formula, and identify transportation investment priorities.

Today’s breakfast at CenterPoint Properties in Oak Brook featured U.S. Reps. Henry Hyde (R-Addison) and Judy Biggert (R-Clarendon Hills), and DuPage County Board Chair Robert Schillerstrom.

“The federal government gave Illinois $931 million for highway and street improvement projects in 2003. Rest assured that I will do everything I can to build on those improvements by making sure Illinois gets its fair share in the reauthorization,” said Rep. Hyde.

The facts about northeastern Illinois’ transportation network are startling. The region has the second largest transit network and third largest interstate network in the nation. It also hosts the third busiest intermodal hub in the world, which is the fifth most congested in the country. All of this leaves local commuters to waste an average of 61 extra hours a year just sitting in traffic. Businesses, which represent individual and commercial transportation users, have a particular interest in how Illinois fares under TEA-3, the next federal bill.

“Anyone who fights traffic every day can tell you Illinois is not getting its fair share of transportation dollars back from Washington,” said Rep. Biggert. “Traffic congestion threatens economic growth in my district and could impede commercial development if we don't provide some relief.”

“We’re proud of DuPage county’s healthy business climate, and we’re committed to making sure that transportation helps support it,” said Schillerstrom.

"We don’t give roads and transit much thought until we have a truck stuck in traffic, or a good worker who is chronically late because he has no reliable way to get to work,” said Michael Fergus, president of SIRVA Moving Services. “I’m glad the representatives and Chair Schillerstrom recognize that, and that they’re here with us today.”

“Business Leaders for Transportation believes strongly that the federal government needs to return to a needs-based funding formula, and provide the necessary resources for a better connected, intermodal system for northeastern Illinois,” said Ed King, director of Government and Community Relations for Walgreens, and chair of the Transportation Committee of the Metropolitan Planning Council, which co-leads Business Leaders for Transportation with Chicago Metropolis 2020 and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, outlined the coalition’s recommendations for TEA-3. “An informed and active business community is key to ensuring that Illinois’ transportation needs are met.”

Today was the last of five forums Business Leaders for Transportation has hosted around the region this fall to bring together the business community and local congressional leaders. Previous events were held in Evanston, Joliet, South Holland, and Hoffman Estates, with U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston), Jerry Weller (R-Joliet), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Chicago), and Mark Kirk (R-Deerfield). Additional forums are being planned for early in 2004.

The event was co-sponsored by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., CenterPoint Properties, DuPage County, DuPage Mayors & Managers Conference, Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, Lemont Area Chamber of Commerce, Lisle Area Chamber of Commerce, Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce, Plainfield Chamber of Commerce, Transportation For Illinois Coalition, Union Pacific Railroad, and Walgreens.

Business Leaders for Transportation, a coalition of nearly 180 members representing more than 12,000 regional employers, provides a collective voice for Chicago-area businesses on surface transportation issues. Of central importance to the coalition is increased state and federal transportation funding for northeastern Illinois, supported by coordinated planning to achieve the most efficient and desirable return on transportation system investments.

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