SPRINGFIELD | A planned expressway between Illinois and Indiana is among the transportation projects put on hold by new Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.
In his first act after taking office Monday, the Republican issued an executive order aimed at cutting spending. It suspended planning and development of any major interstate construction projects pending a “careful review” of costs and benefits.
Rauner spokesman Lance Trover confirmed Tuesday that includes the Illiana Expressway, a planned 47-mile east-west link between Interstate 65 in Indiana and Interstate 55 in Illinois.
Republican Indiana Gov. Mike Pence supports the project. He and other supporters say it would relieve traffic congestion on Interstate 80 south of Chicago and create much-needed jobs.
A delay may threaten the viability of a project that the construction trades have salivated over but that has elicited a lot of mixed feelings, especially in neighborhoods directly affected, Lake County Commissioner Michael Repay said.
“From my perspective, Illinois has a much greater benefit than Indiana, so if Illinois is questioning the cost-benefit, obviously that would be a sign that something might be missing,” he said. “Illinois has been driving it.”
The project would be a major economic boost for the whole region, especially at a time when the construction trades are in need of more work, Northwest Indiana Federation of Labor President Dan Murchek said.
“The Illiana is an economic engine for Northwest Indiana that would relieve congestion and create vital construction jobs,” he said. “We support the completion of the project and it’s disappointing Gov. Rauner has put that on hold. Indiana has looked at the project and determined it’s a good project for the state of Indiana. It’s been planned and talked about and should have been built years ago with the congestion that we have now.”
Critics — including Rauner’s pick to lead the Illinois Department of Transportation — have said it’s financially risky.
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