- Matt Magalis, acting secretary of the Illinois DOT, last week told a state Senate committee panel that the department needs at least $39 billion for infrastructure, including $13 billion to $15 billion during the next 10 years for highway maintenance alone.
- In addition to highway maintenance, Magalis said the IDOT needs $19 billion for public transit; $250 million for state airports, excluding federal contributions and improvements to O’Hare International and Midway International in Chicago; $800 million for passenger rail and $4 billion for freight rail. This does not include the billions of dollars needed to increase highway capacity and the hundreds of millions that the state’s locks and dams require.
- “Our funding needs are great,” Magalis told the panel, “but in order for us to drive our economy and our great state forward, we must invest in the maintenance and expansion of our multimodal system.” The Senate will be conducting hearings through the spring as it prepares to put together a long-term spending bill, according to National Public Radio Illinois.
The funding request comes at a time of renewed concern about the structural integrity of the state’s bridges. Officials closed Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive bridge earlier this month after a crack in supporting beams was discovered. The bridge reopened after crews installed temporary supports and found no additional cracks. Permanent repairs will begin after the necessary steel arrives on site.
Joliet, Illinois, according to The Chicago Tribune, has two bridges that are in desperate need of rehabilitation. The bridges are primary routes for major area distribution centers operated by retailers like Amazon and Dollar Tree. Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk has threatened to divert traffic off the two bridges if the IDOT or USDOT does not come up with a solid plan for funding and rehab. The state says the bridges are safe and that repairs are planned for the spring.
In the American Road & Transportation Builders Association's (ARTBA) 2018 Deficient Bridge Report, the organization said that traffic jams caused by the substandard state of U.S. bridges cost the trucking industry approximately $60 billion each year but that at the current rate of construction, it would take 37 years to make all the necessary repairs. About 9% of the country’s more than 600,000 bridges are considered structurally deficient.
In April of last year, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant directed the state DOT to close 83 bridges deemed structurally deficient after the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) advised that keeping them open created a safety risk and would potentially jeopardize future federal transportation funding. The number of closed bridges in the state, which include many timber bridges, was at 509 at the end of December.
The FHWA regularly inspects the nation’s bridges under the National Bridge Inspection Program and will provide assistance in some critical situations. In August 2017, the agency gave 40 states a total of $768 million for emergency road and bridge repairs, mostly to reimburse the costs of storm and natural disaster-related damage.