Latest J.B. Pritzker News
Aug 27, 2021
Pritzker at a past event. (illinois.gov) Illinois Gov. Jay “J.B.” Pritzker has signed a law intended to improve transportation infrastructure while maximizing the effectiveness of taxpayer dollars. The legislation requires the Illinois Department of Transportation to establish a transportation performance program in order to boost the efficiency of the state’s transportation network. The measure passed both the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate unanimously before heading to Pritzker’s desk. Under the law, IDOT will develop a statewide highway system asset management plan. In order to make the best use of taxpayer dollars, IDOT will create a performance-based project selection process to ensure transportation infrastructure remains in good repair. “As new construction projects pop up around the community, Illinois taxpayers deserve to know the decision behind those projects and the impact it will have on their daily commute, local economy and overall safety,” said Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), a sponsor of the bill. “By implementing a transparent, equitable and data-driven system, people can have the peace of mind that their tax dollars are going toward positive change for the area.” Starting Jan. 1, IDOT will be required to choose projects for its multiyear plan based on a selection process that considers a variety of factors, including congestion mitigation, improved traffic operations, economic development, environmental impact, accessibility and safety. The legislation says the department may apply different weights to the performance measures based on geography or project type. “All plan and program development based on the project selection process described in this subsection shall include consideration of regional balance,” the text of the legislation states. The law says IDOT shall solicit input from local communities, metropolitan planning organizations, transit and transportation authorities, labor and business representatives and members of the public. Starting April 1, no new capacity project will be included in the multiyear transportation plan without getting evaluated through the selection process described in the legislation. The legislation indicates a project prioritization process is in the public interest because of its potential to enhance multimodal connections and mitigate environmental impacts. Additionally, the legislation calls on IDOT to develop a needs-based transit asset management plan, encompassing state-supported vehicles, facilities, equipment and associated infrastructure. The goal of this asset management plan is to preserve and modernize capital transit facilities. IDOT’s plan will be made publicly available on its website. “Illinois is the transportation hub of North America,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “With the distinction comes a huge responsibility that we are investing resources equitably, fairly and in locations where they make the most sense and do the most good.” Osman Transportation infrastructure has been a priority during the Pritzker administration. The governor’s Rebuild Illinois plan, approved in 2019, supported investment in roads, bridges, transit, education, state parks, historic sites and clean water infrastructure. Illinois’ fuel tax rate doubled in 2019 as part of Rebuild Illinois, and rates have increased again slightly over the past two years. The state’s current motor fuel tax rates are 46.7 cents per gallon for diesel and 39.2 cents per gallon for gasoline. Since its inception, Rebuild Illinois has supported a number of infrastructure funding opportunities, covering the marine transportation system and local truck route projects.