Central Illinois lawmakers visited the United Contractors Midwest asphalt facility in north Normal Thursday before touring the ongoing road construction on Interstate 74.
State Rep. Dan Brady was among the bipartisan group of legislators that passed Illinois’ first capital bill in 10 years. The Bloomington Republican said the I-74 site west of Bloomington-Normal has increased the local construction labor count by 15.
“Now across the state of Illinois as the capital bill continues, that’s going to mean more jobs. What does that mean? It means more people are able to pay taxes into our state, have jobs, and be (a) part of our economy. (It is) very crucial for the state of Illinois to move forward,” Brady said at the I-74 site.
Also in attendance was state Sen. Dave Koehler. The Peoria Republican said he has heard from a lot of residents who are frustrated about the gas tax increase that passed last month and took effect July 1. It was the first state motor fuel tax increase in close to 30 years, raising the statewide gas tax by 19 cents. But, Koehler said, that increase will make a noticeable impact locally.
“District 5, which is Peoria’s district, has some of the worst bridges in the state. We need to address that,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of bridges that cross the Illinois River. We need to make sure that those are safe, that those are up to specs.”
Koehler said by passing a capital bill and indexing the gas tax to the cost of living, funding is guaranteed to keep state roads and bridges properly maintained.
Brady agreed, saying that “roads and bridges don’t pay for themselves.”
“They want the roads, they want the bridges fixed, and that’s an investment. And an investment we have to make.
“The materials that are going to this very area of construction in my district come from my district,” Brady said, referring to the stretch of I-74 that passes through Carlock.
Brady said with the capital bill and increase in the state gas tax, infrastructure projects are expected to receive an additional $2 billion a year.
Koelher said post-capital bill roads will be made using a technique called rubbelizing.
“They crush (the old road) up and they use that as the base, all of the steel is still in there, and then they come back over it with layers of asphalt.”
UCM calls rubbelizing “state of the art technology for roads.
Brady said with the new technique, the longevity of roads is upwards of 20 years. Rubbelizing also means the roads will only need minor resurfacing work to maintain it over the life of the road, he explained. That’s compared to the more current technique of tearing up the road in its entirety.
Koehler says he expects to see a boost in the economy in the coming years as a result of the passage of the capital bill.
“They buy materials locally, they employ labor locally, so all of this money recirculates in the economy,” Koehler said. “This money isn’t going out of state to somebody.”
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