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Illinois Report Illustrates Deteriorating Infrastructure

The Transportation for Illinois Coalition (TFIC) released a new report, “Time To Act: Reauthorize Federal Highway/Transit Funding,” that underscores the importance of an adequately funded federal transportation bill. The TFIC report, compiled from state and federal data, tells the story of neglect and deterioration plaguing roads, bridges and transit systems around the state, according to the Illinois Association of Aggregate Producers.

“Illinois’ road and bridges need continued robust federal funding in order to stem the projected increase in rough deteriorated roads and to maintain a healthy economy,” the report states. “It should be noted that projected road conditions are based on a continuation of federal funding at its current level. Any cut from that level would exacerbate the situation.”

The report notes, among other things:

  • Percent of Roads In Unacceptable Condition To More Than Double ­– State roads in Illinois are wearing out 33 percent faster than they are being repaired, with the result that by the end of FY2017, IDOT projects that nearly one out of every four miles will be in unacceptable condition. Between FY2012 and FY2017, IDOT estimates that it will have sufficient revenue to maintain 3,248 miles, an average of 541 miles per year. Yet, to keep pace with maintenance needs, IDOT should repair 800 to 900 miles per year (approximately 5 percent of the system). Thus the percent of state roads in unacceptable condition will more than double, from 11 percent today to 24 percent six years from now. The highway repair needs that are being deferred will not go away; but they will cost more when they are done since they will require more extensive repair work. In fact, deferring timely repairs can drive up the cost of the work by as much as three times.
  • Interstate Reconstruction and Modernization Needs Mounting ­– Illinois’ Interstate system is one of the most extensive ­– and oldest – in the nation. Substantial portions of the system have reached the age where roadway reconstruction, rather than simple resurfacing, is needed. Yet Illinois has only been able to fund less than 20 percent of the miles projected to need reconstruction since 2005. Billions of dollars in Interstate reconstruction needs are unfunded. The Interstate is the workhorse of Illinois’ highway system, carrying more than 30 percent of all traffic in the state. Nearly 53 percent of truck traffic occurs on the Interstate, traffic which is critical to our economy but which takes a heavier toll in roadway wear and tear. While resurfacing — at ever more frequent intervals — can keep the Interstate functional, it cannot eliminate the need to periodically reconstruct aging Interstates. Further, older segments often need to be upgraded to newer and safer design standards and to better handle current traffic levels.
The members of TFIC, a coalition of business, labor, construction, engineering and other groups committed to long-term investment in the nation’s infrastructure, are hopeful that the report’s stark findings will grab the attention of the public and policymakers.