Transportation Secretary Martin: Illinois must send unified message to Washington - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Transportation Secretary Martin: Illinois must send unified message to Washington

The new Transportation Secretary is ready to make sure that Illinois receives its fair share of the next federal transportation bill and applauds Business Leaders' efforts on coodinating a regional agenda for metropolitan Chicago.

Illinois Secretary of Transportation Tim Martin, recently appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, briefed Business Leaders for Transportation on administration plans, and said he supports their efforts to show leaders in Washington, D.C. that metropolitan Chicago has reached regional consensus on TEA-3 needs.

"My first major goals are for this agency to be more responsive to the public and open to new ideas,” Martin said at the Feb. 7, 2003 Business Leaders meeting.  Martin added that he was "well aware" of TEA-21’s funding impacts on Illinois. 

During the last federal transportation bill, funding formula changes caused Illinois to become a donor state, sending more money to Washington in vehicle and highway related taxes than received, Martin said.  A one-year reauthorization of the current bill, “wouldn’t be good for anyone.” Instead, policy makers should be encouraged to plan for long-term transportation investments.

Martin also agreed with Business Leaders for Transportation that another state infrastructure funding program was needed.  His current focus, however, is on making sure that the federal bill provides funding to address northeastern Illinois’ congestion, the downstate highway system and statewide freight needs.  "The need for highways, transit and freight are significant," Martin said, "and must be addressed in the reauthorization.”

Co-leaders of Business Leaders for Transportation presented the group's transit, highway, freight and quality-of-life recommendations for the next federal transportation bill.   MarySue Barrett, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council, reiterated the Secretary’s comments about the funding formula’s impacts on Illinois, which amounted to a $600-million loss over the life of the bill.  Barrett also noted the importance of a coordinated planning effort that would take into account land use and transportation plans.  The coalition’s report,Getting the Chicago Region Moving: A Coordinated Agenda for the Federal Transportation Debate , was developed by a working group that consisted of state and regional agency officials, business and civic groups and local leaders in an effort to send a unified message to Washington on Illinois’ needs in the next federal transportation bill.

Secretary Martin noted that it was important for groups like Business Leaders to continue to build regional consensus.  He said he plans to engage the group on other surface transportation issues in the future.


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