CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Tuesday authorizing $1.6 billion in new state borrowing to finance transportation and transit projects and extending an increase in the Regional Transportation Authority of Illinois’ limit on working cash notes.

The projects fall under the state’s ongoing $31 billion capital program known as Illinois Jobs Now. The next phase supported by the new borrowing is expected to create or support 18,000 jobs.

Quinn was joined by other state and local officials and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at the signing of the bill authorizing the new spending.

“Three years ago, we passed the largest capital construction program in Illinois history to put people to work repairing roads, bridges and transit systems across our state,” Quinn said. “Today’s law ensures that Illinois will continue moving forward.”

The $1.6 billion in mostly general obligation borrowing will finance $817 million in new highway projects and $800 million in mass transit and rail projects. The funding will help leverage additional federal grants.

Quinn also signed a separate bill that extends for two years the RTA’s increased limit on outstanding working cash notes to $400 million from $100 million. The higher authorization was set to expire this past July 1. The increase has proved crucial to the RTA’s ability to manage through chronic state delays in transit aid payments.

The RTA issued recently sold $300 million of two-year working cash-flow notes, rolling over some existing short-term paper while also raising funds to weather late state payments.

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