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U.S. Rep. Bustos pushes for state budget for highway spending

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.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, who was instrumental in getting a new, long-term highway bill through Congress, is urging Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to work with the General Assembly to get a budget so the state can start using federal money to improve its roads.

In a letter to the governor, Bustos, an East Moline Democrat, said the $7.5 billion earmarked in the federal bill for Illinois, will go far in meeting many infrastructure needs in the state, if a budget agreement is in place.

Bustos is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which passed the five-year highway funding bill onto the House and Senate, both of which approved it. It is the first multi-year highway bill in a decade.

“I worked hard to pass a long-term highway funding bill so we can get Illinoisans back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges,” Bustus said. “The federal government has taken action and now it’s up to Springfield to work with us so we can move ahead with job-creating infrastructure priorities such as the I-74 bridge, the expansion of US-20 and the expansion of US-24 in Fulton County. By making long-term investments in our infrastructure, we’ll create jobs and spur new economic development opportunities that will strengthen working families.”

Below is a copy of Congresswoman Bustos’ letter to Gov. Rauner.

Dear Governor Rauner:

 

For too long, Washington has relied on short-term deals to fund the rebuilding of our roads and bridges. The uncertainty created by this kind of short-term thinking can't be understated and there's no doubt that this has made it much more difficult for states like Illinois to invest in major infrastructure projects. However, after working in Congress to pass the first long-term highway bill in a decade, that excuse no longer works and now is the time to start thinking big for the future of our state.

 

As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, I have worked hard to make this meaningful investment in our roads, bridges and other transportation projects. We know that investments in our infrastructure will not only create jobs now, but will lead to more efficient movement of our goods and greater economic development opportunities in the future. By passing this bipartisan five-year highway funding bill, we have done our part to deliver the funds needed to grow Illinois' economy and now working families need the State to do its part. That's why I strongly encourage you to work with the General Assembly to provide a budget agreement that takes full advantage of these federal dollars so we can move ahead and start building a 21st century infrastructure that works for working families across Illinois.

 

After meeting with business leaders, elected officials and hard working families in communities across central and western Illinois, I am writing today to reiterate some of my top infrastructure priorities for funding in the 17th Congressional District:

 

  • Eastern Bypass between Interstate 74 and Illinois Route 6: New highway construction that would connect I-74 with Illinois Route 6 east and north of Peoria would have significant positive impacts to business and economic development, as well as provide improved transportation, efficient access connecting communities and traffic flow for local workforce and population. Construction of this bypass would better connect the region and, specifically, communities in Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford Counties.
  • The expansion of U.S. 24 from two lanes to four lanes, between Kingston Mines and Banner, is Fulton County’s top transportation priority. In its current state, this heavily utilized roadway is a significant safety risk and thus, a growing concern to the community. An increase in lanes would eliminate the safety hazard and increase economic development in the county.
  • Expand U.S. 34 from two lanes to four lanes to provide a safe and reliable transportation corridor. IDOT has identified three high accident locations within the 23.6 miles of the two-lane road, and expansion of this stretch of highway to four lanes would not only increase safety, but reduce congestion.
  • Interstate 74 Mississippi River Crossing, Quad-Cities: The I-74 Bridge is in urgent need of replacement due to crashes, recurring congestion, and significant maintenance; built for a daily crossing of 48,000 vehicles, the daily average is 80,000. The bridge is functionally obsolete with no shoulders and has never met Interstate standards, and crashes along portions of the I-74 corridor exceed three times the national average.
  • Expand U.S. 20 to four lanes between Freeport and Galena: Widening the two-lane highway from Freeport to Galena could spur development by allowing easier transport of goods and services throughout the Midwest and increasing safety for those that use this road. Most of existing U.S. 20 between Galena and Freeport does not meet the Illinois Department of Transportation’s current design standards for rural highways.
  • Studies by the Illinois Department of Transportation, such as the Environmental Impact Study and Phase 1 Engineering, show that U.S. 30 has reached its design limits in its current two-lane configuration. U.S. 30 in its present condition is congested, unsafe, cannot provide the necessary transportation route to support planned and anticipated economic development in this region and does not provide a safe route for the traveling public.
  • Passenger Rail from Chicago to the 17th Congressional District: Beginning rail service between Chicago and the Quad-Cities and between Chicago and Rockford will lead to hundreds of jobs being created and provide a big boost to the region and Illinois’ economy. This is a tremendous priority for me, as is getting service extended to Galena and beyond. I was disappointed to see the grants for this construction frozen and hope that you will work with state leaders to put these projects back on track this year.

 

Thank you for taking these transportation recommendations into consideration. I look forward to working with you to fund transportation projects that reflect the needs and realities of those in my district and across the country.

 

Sincerely,

 

Cheri Bustos

Member of Congress

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).