DALLAS -- Illinois' newly adopted six-year, $11.2 billion highway improvement plan won't be enough to stop the ongoing decline of its transportation infrastructure, state officials said. The condition of the state's road network will worsen without additional investments in highway infrastructure, said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn.
"Revenue projections for transportation do not meet the needs of the state and the condition of our system will continue to deteriorate," he said. "Our latest multiyear highway program is more promising than a year ago, but we still have our work cut out for us."
Funding in the six-year plan is $2.8 billion more than the 2015 version, but almost $13 billion less than the six-year transportation program adopted in 2010, he said. The inventory of state roads in good or acceptable condition is expected to fall from the current 79% to only 61% by the end of fiscal 2022 with current funding.
The multiyear plan includes spending through fiscal 2022 of $7.7 billion for projects on the state highway system outside the Illinois Tollway, and $3.5 billion for local roads.
Part of the additional funding realized since the 2015 plan was developed includes the $1.5 billion per year of federal funding that Illinois will receive through fiscal 2020 from the five-year federal transportation law enacted last year, Blankenhorn said.
Hopes for a boost in transportation funding from the 2016 General Assembly were not realized as the regular session ended May 31 after lawmakers failed to pass a state budget for the second year in a row.
Illinois voters will decide in November on state constitutional amendment HJR CA 36 that would put all revenue from the motor fuel tax, tolls, licenses and vehicle registration fees into a protected transportation fund. The revenues in the transportation lockbox could only be used to fund roads, bridges, intercity rail, public transit, and airports. The lockbox would not include road-related state and local sales tax revenues.
Chicago's Metropolitan Planning Council estimated in April that the state needs $43 billion of additional transportation funding over the next 10 years to eliminate a maintenance backlog and restore highways and bridges to good condition.
The state will be challenged to find ways to maintain roads and bridges from its existing transportation resources without additional funding, according to the multiyear plan summary.
"Innovation alone cannot solve all of the state's infrastructure challenges," it said. "But without sustainable new revenues, it is a necessary step in providing for transportation infrastructure in Illinois."
The six-year plan includes $478 million to replace a bridge on Interstate 74, $114.7 million to widen part of Interstate 55, and $68 million to upgrade 38 bridges on the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago. The plan would improve a total of 2,523 miles of road and 501 bridges over six years. Funding from the plan for fiscal 2017, which begins July 1, totals $2 billion. The state gasoline tax of 19 cents per gallon and diesel tax of 21.5 cents generated $1.1 billion in fiscal 2015, with another $774 million coming in from a 6.25% sales tax on motor fuels. The fuel taxes account for 15% of the Illinois Department of Transportation's annual funding, with another 16% coming from state vehicle taxes and 24% from federal sources.