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Gov. Quinn Unveils Slightly Smaller Transportation Plan

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois will spend slightly less next fiscal year on road, rail and airport construction projects under a transportation plan unveiled Wednesday by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Among the projects touted by the governor as part of the $2 billion plan are the replacement of the aging Interstate 74 bridge over the Mississippi River, construction of a new terminal at the Williamson County Airport in Marion and resurfacing work on Interstate 72 and U.S. 51 in Decatur.

“These are investments that are going to keep us moving forward,” Quinn said.

Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said about 75 percent of the work planned in the coming six years will go toward maintaining existing roadways in Chicago and downstate.

That means many of the projects coming in the next fiscal year are traffic-clogging, but needed projects such as the $11.3 million resurfacing of a section of Interstate 39 north of Normal and the $2 million reconstruction of the Brush College Road underpass between Faries Parkway and Williams Street in Decatur.

In southern Illinois, the state plans to resurface more than 30 miles of Interstate 57 south of Marion at a cost of more than $80 million. The project includes replacing several small bridges.

Quinn, who has been traversing the state cutting ribbons for road projects as he seeks re-election in November, said the road plan also means jobs at a time when Illinois is plagued by a high unemployment rate.

“Investing in transportation produces dividends immediately,” the governor told reporters gathered in his Capitol office.

After praising the completion of a new Mississippi River bridge in St. Louis earlier this year, Quinn said replacing the I-74 bridge between Moline and Bettendorf will be the next top bridge priority.

With Iowa serving as the lead agency, the next three years will see more than $308 million in work on the new structure, including the construction of one mile of additional lanes on the Illinois side, as well as smaller bridge replacements and other adjustments in the vicinity.

Decatur also is in line for bridge work. Although work may not get underway in the coming 12 months, the plan calls for replacing the U.S. 51 bridge over the Sangamon River south of Harristown at a cost of $17 million.

In Coles County, the state will spend $4.1 million to replace the Illinois 133 bridge over the Embarras River west of Oakland.

In southern Illinois, the state is planning to spend $3 million to replace the Illinois 127 bridge over the Big Muddy River in Murphysboro.

The Main Street bridge over Sugar Creek in Normal also is programmed for replacement beginning in 2016 at a cost of $1.3 million.

Along with roads and bridges, the plan calls for spending on airports, including $4.8 million to reconstruct the runway at the Coles County Memorial Airport in Mattoon.

The state also plans to spend $10 million this year to construct a terminal building at the Williamson County Regional Airport.

The slight reduction in spending comes as the state’s $31 billion capital construction plan is in its last stages. Quinn has called on lawmakers to form a task force to begin looking at ways to jump start a new construction program.

“With federal revenue sources dwindling and the end in sight for Gov. Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now program, I look forward to supporting the governor’s call for a bipartisan working group to find ways to continue this progress,” Schneider said.

Full story here.

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