New analysis breaks down Illinois’ ‘third deficit,’ calls on civic leaders, lawmakers to invest in transportation maintenance, improvements - Metropolitan Planning Council

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New analysis breaks down Illinois’ ‘third deficit,’ calls on civic leaders, lawmakers to invest in transportation maintenance, improvements

(Chicago) … The nonprofit, nonpartisan Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) consulted experts around the state to determine that Illinois needs to invest $43 billion over 10 years to fix and improve its roads, bridges and rail lines—a significant, but achievable goal, according to MPC Senior Fellow Jim Reilly, who presented MPC’s analysis at a City Club of Chicago luncheon Monday at noon. 

“The $43 billion needed to rebuild and improve our transportation infrastructure is less than what we’re wasting today on vehicle repairs due to poor road conditions, time lost to traffic congestion, and population and jobs going to neighboring states,” said Reilly. “To reverse these costly trends, we need a significant, reliable state revenue source dedicated to infrastructure investment.” 

Read MPC’s full analysis here, including downloadable charts: http://metroplanning.org/transportation.  

How did we get here? 

Illinois’ gas tax was last raised 25 years ago, in 1991. Since then, the purchasing power of the state’s fixed per-gallon gas tax has declined by more than 40 percent—reducing the average Illinoisan’s contribution from the equivalent of $160 to under $100 per year (in 2013 dollars). In turn, the state’s investment in transportation has fallen by 40 percent. 

Not surprisingly, the share of Illinois roads in good condition has fallen, too; today, one in five Illinois roads is in poor shape. Without action, this will decline to two out of five by 2021. Likewise, the Regional Transportation Authority estimates that only about two-thirds of the region’s transit network is in a state of good repair; by 2030, if we do nothing, less than half of the system’s buses, trains and infrastructure will be in good condition. 

“In the past we’ve relied on large but infrequent capital bills to patch together funding. The resulting boom-and-bust cycle was unpredictable and ultimately inefficient,” said MPC Senior Fellow Jim Reilly. “The worst thing for our struggling state economy would be for the General Assembly to pass a piecemeal transportation bill that only addresses a portion of the needed $43 billion. The only way to reverse our downward spiral and attract more jobs is to invest in ourselves.” 

We can solve this. 

MPC’s analysis explains one way the state could raise the needed $43 billion, supported by a combination of bonds and steady revenue for “pay-as-you-go” investments. 

One option to meet this need is a 30-cent per gallon increase in state motor fuel taxes and a 50 percent increase in vehicle registration fees, both indexed to inflation. 

The additional gas tax and the increase in vehicle registration fees would cost the average person $12.25 each month, or $147 each year. To put this in context, the average Illinois household spends more than $10,000 a year on transportation. 

“For the monthly cost equivalent to one take-out lunch or a Netflix subscription, Illinoisans can have roads, bridges and transit that actually work,” said Reilly. “This is an investment that will pay off, both by saving us money and by helping to attract people and jobs.” 

Read MPC’s full analysis here, including downloadable charts: http://metroplanning.org/transportation. For more information, contact MPC Communications Director Mandy Burrell Booth, at 312-863-6018 or mburrell@metroplanning.org.

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