We need $43 billion for transportation funding. How do we raise it? - Metropolitan Planning Council

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We need $43 billion for transportation funding. How do we raise it?

Our state's transportation network is crumbling. Fixing it will cost less than continuing to suffer.

Forty-three billion dollars. That's how much Illinois needs to spend over the next 10 years to bring our roads, bridges and transit systems back to good condition, according to new Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) analysis.

MPC wants an honest conversation about how to raise the $43 billion we need to invest in our transportation network.

There are many ways to make that happen. We're offering up one to get the discussion going.

Watch the video of Jim's speech.

Read MPC's full analysis.

From damaged vehicles to lost time, our crumbling infrastructure is taking money out of our pockets and slowing down our state’s economy. Years of declining investment have left Illinois’ roads, rails and bridges in poor shape. We must invest $43 billion to rebuild and improve our state’s transportation network. It's a deficit that is just as critical to our state as our budget and pension deficits.

Like the budget and pensions, we must address transportation in 2016. Doing nothing will actually cost us more.

How did we get here?

As Greg Hinz writes for Crain's, the gas tax has not been raised from its current level of 19 cents per gallon since 1991. But thanks to inflation, 19 cents isn't worth what it once was. So we're actually investing 40 percent less than what 19 cents got us 25 years ago.

Meanwhile, the portion of our roads in good condition has fallen from the standard of 90 percent to only 79 percent in 2015. Without action, this will decline to 62 percent by 2021.

Transit systems in Northeastern Illinois have also fallen behind dramatically. The Regional Transportation Authority estimates that only about 67 percent of the region’s transit network is in a state of good repair. At existing levels of funding, less than half of the system’s buses, trains and infrastructure will be in a state of good repair by 2030.

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. To allow us to return our infrastructure to good condition and accommodate growth, we need a substantial, regular, reliable source of additional revenue.

We can solve this.

MPC wants to start an honest conversation about how much it will really take to bring Illinois' roads and transit systems back to 90 percent good condition. There are many ways to make that happen. But to not have the conversation because it's easier to ignore the problem than to solve it will only cost us more and more money.

So we're opening the discussion with one possible solution. Our analysis explains that 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. These increases would be supported by a combination of bonds and steady revenue for “pay-as-you-go” investments.

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

It's unthinkable that we would let the systems that residents rely on every day to get them from A to B fall further behind. MPC is starting a conversation about how much we need, and how to get there. We welcome informed discussion about closing our transportation funding gap.

Read MPC’s full analysis.


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