SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Illinois will double the amount of money it spends on road-building and repair in the next five years as part of a $45 billion statewide construction program approved last spring, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday.
The Democrat released the state's annual five-year transportation improvement program, announcing that the state will spend $23 billion by 2025 on concrete for its deteriorating network of roadways.
Pritzker's "Rebuild Illinois" had been a major campaign pledge for the first-term governor. However, it has been under scrutiny since the disclosure last month of a federal investigation focused in part on Sen. Martin Sandoval, a Chicago Democrat who was the former chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.
The $23 billion put forward for the five-year road plan is enough to fix and expand 4,200 miles (6,760 kilometers) of roadways and 9 million square feet (836,000 square meters) of bridge decks.
Next year's construction budget alone — $3.76 billion — is a 68 percent increase over this year.
"Illinois has some of the most important roads in America ...," Pritzker said. "We have the opportunity to lead the nation in the transportation, distribution and logistics sector for years to come. Let's seize it."
The road plan aligns Illinois with a Federal Highway Administration standard for long-term maintenance, or "preservation," of roadways, a money-saver compared with fixing roads only when they have so deteriorated they become unsafe.
Authorities raided Sandoval's home and offices last month and removed, among other items, documents related to unnamed Illinois Department of Transportation employees and highway and construction companies in a search for potential personal favors exchanged for official government action.
Pritzker announced a "full-throated rejection" of the alleged corruption, promising to ensure that "every dollar that gets spent in this capital plan is done completely above board and is done the right way and with taxpayers in mind."
The Transportation for Illinois Coalition , a group representing business, labor and transportation advocates, called the plan a "critical step" following years of "missed opportunities to move our state forward."
"We have tens of billions of dollars in roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure that needs (to be) repaired, replaced and expanded," the group said.
Multiyear program: https://bit.ly/1PmfHhe
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