Performance based transportation planning is on the way - Metropolitan Planning Council

Skip to main content

Performance based transportation planning is on the way

The Illinois General Assembly just voted to make goals clear to the public and prioritize investments with the biggest impact

Transportation investments in Illinois carry price tags in the billions, not millions. So it’s important that we make decisions wisely.

When passed in 2019, Rebuild IL allocated $33 billion over six years. The question we have been asking since then is “how will all those public dollars be spent?” Every transportation investment deeply impacts facets of life, including: access to key destinations like jobs, healthcare and food; emissions that impact climate change and public health; affordability of our system; safety; accessibility for people with disabilities; and conditions for populations that have been marginalized historically. And since our state’s vast transportation network is one the key strategic assets we have to compete in the global economy, we must invest with goals that are clearly articulated, measured and refined, and transparent. Are we thinking about all of these dimensions when our state invests billions of dollars into our transportation system?  The good news is that soon, we will be.      

During the 2021 legislative session, legislators passed HB253, which will establish more transparent and equitable investment practices for state transportation infrastructure expenditures. Sponsored in the Senate by Ill. Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) and in the House by Ill. Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago), the bill was passed by both chambers of the General Assembly on May 29 and will now go to Gov. Pritzker’s desk for signature. Performance-based planning has been established as a national best practice by the Federal government, and a number of other states have established such processes.

“Illinois taxpayers deserve a system for selecting transportation and infrastructure projects that is transparent, data driven, and equitable. I applaud my Senate colleagues for voting in favor of shining more sunlight on this process to ensure the public can better understand why projects are selected, and to select projects that do the greatest good for Illinoisans,” said Sen. Villivalam.

This legislation will require the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) that oversees transit in northeastern Illinois to use performance metrics in evaluating projects. Known as performance-based planning, this process uses data to compare proposed infrastructure projects and prioritize those that achieve the greatest transportation outcomes.

“Whether we want to improve a community’s main street or enhance a train station, this proposal will ensure we use data-driven criteria to achieve both excellence and equity with every dollar spent,” said Ill. Rep. Buckner.

After April 2022, capacity projects in the IDOT and RTA multiyear plans will be required to go through a transparent performance-based planning process.  Stakeholders’ work is not finished, however; they will need to provide input as IDOT and RTA develop the criteria for evaluating projects.  But fortunately, some initial steps on which to build have been made by IDOT.  As soon as next year we can look forward to multiyear investment plans that more transparently prioritize projects and describe the benefits that they will deliver to Illinois taxpayers.

This blog is authored jointly by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, Illinois Environmental Council, Transportation Equity Network, Illinois Economic Policy Institute, and Metropolitan Planning Council

More posts by Audrey

  1. The Chicago region must drastically accelerate climate action

    • By Audrey Wennink and Edith Makra, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and Ned Gardiner, PhD, NOAA
    • Jul 27, 2021
  2. The Power of Cycling to Build Community Cohesion and Healthier Cities

    • By Audrey Wennink and Samantha Lenoch, Research Assistant
    • Jun 29, 2021
  3. Putting sidewalks and bike lanes on equal footing

    • By Audrey Wennink and Active Transportation Alliance, Ride Illinois
    • Jun 7, 2021

All posts by Audrey »

MPC on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter »


Stay in the loop!

MPC's Regionalist newsletter keeps you up to date with our work and our upcoming events.

Subscribe to Regionalist


Most popular news

Browse by date »

This page can be found online at http://www.metroplanning.org/news/10154

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616 info@metroplanning.org

Sign up for newsletter and alerts »

Shaping a better, bolder, more equitable future for everyone

For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

Donate »