Illinois is facing a mounting infrastructure maintenance crisis, and we need more funding to address it - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Illinois is facing a mounting infrastructure maintenance crisis, and we need more funding to address it

Flickr user Ian Abbott (cc)

In Illinois, our bridges—like this one on Wacker Drive—are in need of a little TLC.

It’s a problem apparent even to investors from abroad: Illinois’ infrastructure is falling apart, and we’re failing to fund its renovation. As a result, our state is struggling to attract new investment and our population is not growing nearly as quickly as those of our peers.

The Accelerate Illinois campaign, a coalition of organizations including AARP, Regional Transportation Authority and others, is working to advance increased infrastructure investment in our state. New funding is necessary to bring our infrastructure back to a state of good repair. Funding collected from the state’s motor fuel taxes, for example, is more than a third lower than it was in the early 1990s when adjusted for inflation.

Data provided by the Illinois Dept. of Transportation suggest that the lack of adequate funding at the state level will degrade conditions even further over the coming years.

The state’s multi-year transportation plan shows that given expected funding, by 2020 just 61 percent of state road miles and 87 percent of state-managed bridges in Illinois will be in a state of good repair.

As the following charts illustrate, however, new funding at the state level would contribute to significant improvements for our state’s roads and bridges. The state would be able to reach its goals of bringing 93 percent of bridges and 90 percent of roads to good condition if state funding for roadways were doubled. Significant funding of this magnitude would bring our state’s highway infrastructure back to the high standards of the early 2000s.

Illinois Dept. of Transportation Acting Secretary Randy Blankenhorn recently wrapped up a listening tour of the state designed to learn from local residents and officials about their transportation needs. This tour included a stop at the Metropolitan Planning Council’s May 13 Infrastructure Week event at the Union League Club.

Given the clear statewide need to invest in upgrading our state’s transportation system—and the fact that people around the state are making clear that they need improved options for getting around—we look forward to working with the Illinois Dept. of Transportation and the Governor’s office in the search for new funds to invest.

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