Bi-partisan proposal calls for greater transparency, accountability in how Illinois selects transportation projects - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Bi-partisan proposal calls for greater transparency, accountability in how Illinois selects transportation projects

Illinois Capital Investment Accountability Act would create state’s first criteria-based process for prioritizing investments in transit, roads and other capital projects

(Springfield, Ill.) … As advocacy groups and public agencies across Illinois continue to call for increased funding for transit, roads and other infrastructure projects, a new bill promises to fundamentally improve the way the state invests its capital dollars.

The Illinois Capital Investment Accountability Act, introduced in the Senate as SB 1582 by Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Highwood) and in the House as HB 801 by State Reps. David E. Miller (D-Dolton) and Michael Tryon ( R-Crystal Lake ), would institute Illinois’ first transparent, accountable, criteria-driven process for selecting transportation projects.

“Through SB 1582, all state capital dollars invested in surface transportation would be tied to a new way of doing business in Illinois,” said Sen. Garrett. “The bill proposes prioritizing those projects that most benefit Illinois residents and businesses, by basing project selection on a clearly defined development vision for Illinois created with extensive public involvement.”

By making sound public policy the driving factor for project selection, this bill would create a more open and responsible government process for prioritizing capital investments.

“At a time when Illinois’ liabilities and unfunded commitments exceed its assets by more than $100 billion, it’s critical that we scrutinize every dollar spent,” said Rep. Miller. “HB 801 vastly improves the accountability of our transportation project selection process, as well as strengthens local input in project selection to ensure communities throughout the state receive the greatest value for every taxpayer dollar spent on transportation.”

“This proposal levels the playing field for all Illinois communities seeking transportation infrastructure improvements,” said Rep. Tryon. “It’s about creating a fair system for capital investment decision making in Illinois.”

Across the state, media have been reporting stories of unreliable transit systems, pot-hole-riddled highways, crumbling bridges, and outdated local roads. This month, the Regional Transportation Authority and Transportation for Illinois Coalition put multi-billion dollar price tags on Illinois’ unfunded transportation needs. The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), a nonprofit planning advocate that formed consensus around the Capital Investment Accountability Act, agrees more funding is needed to maintain and expand our transportation network, a cornerstone of a healthy statewide economy. However, MPC President MarySue Barrett cautions that to reap the greatest benefit from any infusion in state capital funding, the state must develop a more accountable and transparent plan for spending those dollars.

“Just as an individual plans for retirement, or a business invests in its physical plant, the state should weigh its capital investments against a comprehensive plan that supports sensible growth, and maintains our economic competitiveness and quality of life,” said Barrett. “Simply put, projects that have the most value to the citizens and businesses of the state should be in the front of the line.”

Click here to read more about the transportation selection process outlined in Illinois Capital Investment Accountability Act.

For comment on a potential state capital investment package from the Metropolitan Planning Council, please contact Mandy Burrell, communications associate, at 312-863-6018 (office), 773-640-1206 (cell), or mburrell@metroplanning.org; or Peter Skosey, vice president of external relations at 312-863-6004 or pskosey@metroplanning.org.

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