Illinois eyes new Interstate 80 bridge in Rock Island County. State plans to double spending on roads, bridges
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Illinois eyes new Interstate 80 bridge in Rock Island County. State plans to double spending on roads, bridges


SPRINGFIELD — Funding for the first steps to replace the Interstate 80 bridge over the Mississippi River in Rock Island County is included in a $45 billion statewide construction program announced by Gov. J.B. Pritzker Monday.

The plan is to spend $304.5 million on the Interstate 80 bridge project during fiscal years 2020-2025, beginning with a study in fiscal year 2020 at a cost of $20,000. Illinois is the lead agency for the project, but Iowa will share equally in the costs.

Pritzker said Monday that Illinois will double the amount of money it spends on road-building and repair in the next five years as part of the $45 billion statewide construction program approved last spring.

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% 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.

Other local projects included in the plan are:

  • $74.5 million in fiscal years 2020-2025 for continuation of the replacement of the Interstate 74 bridge over the Mississippi River between Moline and Bettendorf. Iowa is the lead agency on the project, and Illinois will reimburse Iowa as work is completed.
  • $14.5 million in fiscal year 2020 for resurfacing and patching of Interstate 74 from 0.4 mile south of Illinois 81 to 0.2 mile north of Illinois 17 in Henry County.
  • $9.5 million during fiscal years 2021-2025 for resurfacing and patching of Interstate 80 from the Rock River to U.S. 6 in Henry County.
  • $36 million in fiscal years 2021-2025 for a new bridge deck and bridge painting on Interstate 280 at the Mississippi River southwest of Rock Island. Illinois is the lead agency for this project, but Iowa will share equally in the costs.

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